If we suspect that we may be suffering from some form of medical ailment, we may choose to have the issue addressed at a hospital or other health care facility. Our hope is to have our symptoms properly diagnosed so any appropriate treatment can be issued.
The ability to accurately match symptoms to causes and then issue treatment accordingly can have tremendous impact on a patient's health and well being. Failure to diagnose an illness could lead to a patient incurring serious health issues or even dying.
Typically, a medical professional may be held liable if they failed or delayed in issuing a proper diagnosis of a disease and if the patient's resulting injuries were worse than what they would have been with a diagnosis that was timely.
In determining the causes of a patient's symptoms, most doctors will use a process called "differential diagnosis." The process relies on a doctor’s ability to create a list of possible causes. The causes should be listed from most to least probable.
A key factor in determining if a doctor committed malpractice is whether or not they made a diagnosis that would have been made in a similar set of circumstances by a doctor who demonstrated reasonable prudence.
A malpractice suit may be appropriate should a doctor have failed to give a patient's true diagnosis consideration. Likewise, if the doctor listed the true diagnosis as possible, but did not follow up by conducting more tests or applying other means of criteria, they may also be liable.
Proving malpractice can be difficult. In such instances, a medical malpractice attorney may be able to look at the details of the transpired events and help determine the best course forward.