What Is The Difference Between Failure To Diagnose And Misdiagnosis?
In terms of medical malpractice, misdiagnosis occurs when the doctor assigns the wrong medical condition, illness, or disease to the set of symptoms that a patient presents. Failure to diagnose occurs when the doctor does not offer a diagnosis despite the symptoms presented by the patient.
A third area of malpractice is delayed diagnosis – the doctor takes so much time to diagnose that delay in treatment causes a further decrease in the health status of the patient.
Are any of these three areas of medical care malpractice? Yes and no. Here’s more information.
What is Medical Malpractice?
Medical malpractice occurs when a patient is injured by a medical profession due to neglect. Misdiagnosis may seem like it is malpractice, but it may not be. One of the key pieces of determining if malpractice occurs is whether another medical professional of the same “caliber” would provide the same level of treatment.
For example, if someone has a rare disease and is misdiagnosed, another medical doctor with the same level of experience may or may not diagnose the disease accurately. Another example would be if someone has a series of symptoms that indicate the person has internal bleeding and the doctor dismisses the test result or fails to order tests that would clearly show internal bleeding, and instead diagnoses the symptoms as something else, this could be potential misdiagnosis. When that happens, it is very likely that another doctor with the same experience would order the tests or understand that the test results show the patient has internal bleeding.
For malpractice to occur, the victim or their family must prove that negligence occurred, which caused further harm to the patient.
What is Failure to Diagnose?
Some diseases are difficult to diagnose as there may not be a test available that clearly indicates one disease over another. In other situations, the opportunity to diagnose the disease is dismissed. For example, a patient presents with an x-ray that shows a spot on a lung. The doctor looks at the report or x-ray and determines that the spot is nothing to worry about. Six months later, the patient presents with lung cancer. The doctor failed to diagnose the patient’s cancer when the disease was small. A needle biopsy or other medical test could have helped with diagnosis, but the tests were not ordered.
To prove medical malpractice in Kansas you must prove that there was:
- A doctor-patient relationship
- Negligence occurred within that relationship
- Harm – the patient was harmed by the doctor’s negligence.
What You Can Do If You Suspect Medical Malpractice
If you feel that you or someone you love has experienced medical malpractice then a good first step is to contact the right attorney. Proving medical malpractice requires legal skills and an understanding of the laws. Larry Wall Trial Law handles medical malpractice and personal injury cases throughout the state of Kansas. Discover your rights and legal options today, by giving us a call.