Can Doctors Be Held Liable For Making Diagnosis Errors?

Did a delayed diagnosis, failure to diagnose, or misdiagnosis cause you or a loved one to suffer unnecessary health problems or a worsening of your current health problems? Our New York City malpractice lawyers can help.

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All doctor-patient relationships are built on trust. We all assume that the medical professionals we entrust with our care will draw on their knowledge, training, and experience to provide us with the highest standard of medical care. Most of the time this trust is rewarded, but unfortunately, sometimes medical negligence causes preventable injuries, illnesses, and health complications. Diagnosis errors are some of the most common forms of medical negligence, and often have some of the most dire consequences.

If you’ve suffered preventable health complications because of a medical professional’s diagnosis error, it’s important to seek financial support and accountability. The families affected by these errors deserve to be compensated for their economic and noneconomic losses. And the physicians responsible for them need to be held accountable in order to protect future patients. Our New York City medical malpractice lawyers help the victims of diagnostic and other medical errors meet these goals by helping them file medical malpractice lawsuits.

How Common Are Diagnosis Errors?

According to a 2015 study by the Institute of Medicine (IOM), the majority of Americans will be affected by at least one wrong or delayed medical diagnosis in their lifetimes. Approximately 12 million of these errors occur each year. While some of these patients may be fortunate enough to avoid further health complications, many others see their conditions worsen because a medical professional failed to provide an accurate or timely diagnosis. And as many as 98,000 people die each year because of hospital mistakes.

Diagnosis errors are also the most common type of medical malpractice claims, and almost twice as likely to cause a patient’s death than other malpractice claims. If you or someone you love has recently suffered unnecessary harm because of a missed, wrong, or delayed diagnosis, we advise speaking with an experienced New York City medical malpractice lawyer as soon as possible to explore your legal options.

Wrong Diagnosis Errors

Wrong diagnosis errors (also known as misdiagnosis) occur when a medical professional incorrectly interprets or fails to recognize symptoms of a specific illness, instead attributing the symptoms to a different, wrong illness. When this happens, the true illness may go untreated, or the wrong treatment may be applied, both of which could lead to complications that may have been avoided if the illness was correctly diagnosed.

There are several medical errors which frequently result in the wrong diagnosis, such as:

  • Failing to order the appropriate medical tests
  • Failing to follow up on medical tests
  • Wrong interpretation of test results
  • Failing to complete sufficient medical exams
  • Failure to recognize or correctly interpret symptoms
  • Poor communication between medical personnel
  • Lack of resources for handling all patients

A report by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) found that cognitive biases in doctors often contribute to these errors. Some examples include:portrait of older doctor

  • Diagnosing a current patient biased by experience with past patients
  • Relying too much on initial diagnosis impression and ignoring other evidence
  • Diagnosis based on superficial or subtle impressions (like treating a drug addict for withdrawal instead of another illness)
  • Blindly trusting test results or expert opinions

In order to determine if your health complications are the result of a diagnostic error, you’ll likely need to have your medical records and other evidence reviewed by a potential medical expert witness. Our medical malpractice firm has contacts with these experts, and we’re prepared to work with them to build a successful malpractice claim.

What Is Delayed Diagnosis?

A delayed diagnosis means that a doctor failed to promptly recognize symptoms, make a diagnosis, and begin treatment for a particular illness. This issue is especially common with cancer patients and often has fatal consequences. When a physician fails to make a timely diagnosis, treatment is delayed, which often causes symptoms to get worse and sometimes become untreatable. For example, a doctor may have failed to diagnose stage 2 cancer, only making the diagnosis once the cancer had progressed to stage 4. If the correct diagnosis had been made earlier, the patient may have had a better chance of beating the disease.

Not all delayed diagnoses are grounds for medical malpractice claims. You and your legal counsel must demonstrate that your condition becomes markedly worse or untreatable because of the delayed diagnosis.

Filing A Malpractice Lawsuit For Diagnosis Error Complications

If you’re considering a medical malpractice claim for delayed diagnosis, it’s important to find an experienced malpractice lawyer who can help you establish the following three things:

  • You had a doctor-patient relationship with the doctor named in the claim
  • This doctor was negligent by failing to provide proper medical care
  • This negligence directly cause an injury, illness, or health complications
  • These health problems resulted in specific damages

These claims are tough to win, as you’ll be going up against a powerful malpractice insurance company. However, with the right legal representation, you can build a successful case for a settlement or favorable court verdict. Our NYC malpractice lawyers are prepared to work with established medical professionals to prove that you suffered unnecessary harm because of medical negligence. To learn more about how you and your family can find justice and support, get in touch with us today for a free consultation.