Patients depend on their doctors for an accurate and timely diagnosis. Although some medical conditions are inherently difficult to diagnose, physicians have a duty to care for their patients that requires them to do everything reasonably possible to diagnose an illness accurately. Failure to do so can result in a patient’s condition worsening without the necessary treatment. This is why failure to diagnose is considered a type of medical malpractice. If you or a loved one is the victim of failure to diagnose, you can contact a West Virginia medical malpractice lawyer from our firm today to learn of your potential right to a lawsuit.
The more serious the disease, the more serious the consequences of diagnosis failure are. The reality is, doctors cannot always improve a patient’s medical condition. There are some conditions that are difficult to treat regardless of the circumstances, but the difference between a difficult-to-treat disease and a wrongly diagnosed disease rests in medical negligence. The major question is: did the doctor do everything reasonably possible to make an accurate diagnosis of the medical condition? This can include doing a complete and thorough evaluation of the patient’s medical history as well as discuss the symptoms at length with the patient.
The top three most commonly undiagnosed illnesses are toxoplasmosis (22.06%), sleep disorders (14.71%) and otosclerosis (10%). Toxoplasmosis commonly goes undiagnosed because patients may not even display symptoms. Due to a lack of symptoms, a person with toxoplasmosis may not even make a visit to the hospital for an evaluation. Toxoplasmosis is a parasitic infection that can result from things such as consuming contaminated food as well as blood transfusions and organ transplants. Sleep disorders are not fatal, and since many factors can cause sleeplessness, are often undiagnosed. Finally, otosclerosis is a type of abnormal bone growth in the inner ear which can cause hearing loss and loss of balance.
Although both are types of medical malpractice and physician negligence, failure to diagnose differs from misdiagnosis. Although a lack of a diagnosis is also a misdiagnosis, a misdiagnosis is not a failure to diagnose. Some conditions have very similar side effects as other conditions, making a misdiagnosis more likely. One example of this is the condition known as aortic dissection. Depending on the patient’s particular symptoms, this dangerous heart condition can be misdiagnosed as mere heartburn. Actor John Ritter died in 2003 due to aortic dissection. His widow was able to settle a wrongful death case on her husband’s behalf, saying that his condition was repeatedly misdiagnosed by his doctor.
Unfortunately, one of the other most commonly misdiagnosed medical conditions is also one of the most dangerous: cancer. In particular, breast cancer and colorectal cancer are some of the most commonly misdiagnosed forms of cancer according to one Harvard study. The study suggests that these dangerous misdiagnoses occur when doctors fail to strictly adhere to cancer screening regulations. One thing that patients can do for peace of mind as well as a precautionary measure is to ask their doctor for additional testing. If a patient feels as if their doctor is repeatedly failing to diagnose a condition, then a patient has every right to demand a further look from their doctor.
What can you do if you or a loved one is the victim of failure to diagnose? It is important for you to know that you may qualify for a medical malpractice lawsuit. To learn more, please contact a West Virginia personal injury attorney at Mani Ellis & Layne, PLLC today. Our firm always fights for maximum medical malpractice compensation so that our clients can access the recovery that they deserve.