When Is Failure to Diagnose Medical Malpractice?
It seems as though we spend more and more time at the doctor’s office these days. There also seems to be more and more diseases and illnesses cropping up all the time, meaning medical professionals have an ever-growing number of medical issues and techniques for treating that they have to be knowledgeable about. But what if you go to the doctor and they misdiagnose you, or don’t diagnose you at all? Is this human error or medical malpractice? When does one become the other?
Failure to Diagnose
Doctors are human, and they do make mistakes, not all of which qualify as medical malpractice. Much like a car accident not always being a case of negligence, not every case of failure to diagnose is because of something that the doctor did wrong. Any number of different causes can result in a doctor not coming up with a diagnosis, or coming up with the wrong one.
While the doctor has a responsibility to help you improve your health, you also have a responsibility to give the doctor all of the information that he requires to make that diagnosis. If you visit your doctor for a routine physical and don’t tell them about the chest pains you were having a few weeks earlier, it’s not entirely their fault if they don’t diagnose you with heart disease.
Also, while it is imperative that a doctor knows which tests to order so that they can properly diagnose you, if they order the correct tests and take all of the correct measures and still a condition goes unnoticed, it’s not necessarily medical malpractice. For it to go from a reasonable failure to diagnose to medical malpractice, something else has to occur.
Much like in a car accident, there has to be an element of negligence for a doctor to be guilty of medical malpractice. In addition to negligence, there also has to be an injury done – you have to be hurt or develop a serious medical condition as a result of the doctor’s lack of diagnosis.
What this usually means is that a doctor didn’t take steps that any reasonable and similarly trained medical professional would take – didn’t order the proper tests, didn’t take a medical history to reveal any possible causes of the illness, or made an improper diagnosis with the correct information in front of them.
In these cases the doctor not only didn’t do what was reasonable for a person with their training and knowledge, they caused you harm and possibly death. In instances like this, a doctor’s failure to diagnose is more than just a reasonable missed diagnosis – it’s medical malpractice.
What Should You Do Next? Contact a Medical Malpractice Lawyer
If you believe you or a loved one have been the victim of medical malpractice the most important thing is to consult with a medical malpractice attorney. They’ll go over the details with you and find out if in fact medical malpractice has occurred. Your attorney will make sure you’re aware of all your rights, and help you take the necessary steps to take any actions against the doctor and the hospital that you are entitled to.
While it’s true that doctors are human and that they do make mistakes that aren’t medical malpractice, when they do it’s important that they be held accountable. If you’re in Maryland and believe you’ve been the victim of medical malpractice, contact the Maryland medical malpractice lawyers of Chapman & Bowling. We have years of experience with these kinds of cases and will help you know what your rights are and whether or not you have a case.