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What You Need to Know About Diagnostic Error Lawsuits

failure to diagnose

A diagnostic error is a misdiagnosis, delayed diagnosis or failure to diagnose a patient. Diagnostic error lawsuits seek monetary damages on behalf of the victim for physical pain and suffering, emotional and mental distress, lost wages and more caused directly by the diagnostic error.

Types of diagnostic error that may lead to diagnostic error lawsuits

Whatever the type of diagnostic error, the result is a delay in care and possible injury to the patient.

Misdiagnosis – misdiagnosis occurs when a doctor identifies the wrong health condition based on the symptoms presented.

Failure to diagnose – failure to diagnose occurs when a doctor misses the connection between the patient’s symptoms and the health condition.

Delayed diagnosis – delayed diagnosis is when the doctor initially misses the connection between the symptoms and the health condition.

How do diagnostic errors happen?

Diagnostic errors happen for a variety of reasons including incompetence, inexperience and negligence. These  reasons may cause:

  • Lack of thorough care and attention to patient symptoms
  • Failure to order tests
  • Failure to refer patient to specialist
  • Failure to examine the patient’s personal or family medical history

If you or a loved one is suffering as a result of a diagnostic error, you may be able to recover damages with the help of an experienced medical malpractice lawyer. A good medical malpractice attorney will treat you with the respect and dignity you deserve while fighting for justice on your behalf so you can get back to recovering. Contact a local attorney today; there is a statute of limitations on a claim!

What is the difference between incompetence and negligence?

For a viable diagnostic error lawsuit, the victim must prove that the doctor acted negligently; that the physician’s action or inaction deviated from the accepted medical standard of care and caused damages. Incompetent behavior resulting in diagnostic error is not enough to establish negligence.

The fact of the matter is that even experienced doctors sometimes make diagnostic mistakes. When a mistake is made and subsequent injury occurs; a medical malpractice lawyer – along with the experts he or she retains – can determine whether the doctor acted in a reasonable manner in accordance with standard medical practice or whether negligence was committed.

To prove medical malpractice/negligence the injured party must show that the following three things are true:

  • That there was an existing doctor-patient relationship (proven by the doctor’s appointment with the patient)
  • That the doctor acted in a negligent manner
  • That the negligence on the doctor’s part caused direct injury to the patient

The first of the three is easy to establish; the success of a diagnostic error lawsuit usually mostly hinges on the last two points.

What is differential diagnosis?

Differential diagnosis is a systematic method used by medical professionals to identify a health condition based on the patient’s symptoms. The doctor listens to the patient’s symptoms, does a physical evaluation and then lists the probable causes in order of most likely to least likely. In most cases a deeper look is taken to confirm the diagnoses; doctors may order tests, refer the patient to a specialist or gather information about the patient’s personal and family medical history. The reason for the additional step(s) is to confirm that the number one probable cause is the right diagnosis while ruling out the other probable causes of patient symptoms. The problem is that medicine is not a perfect science so sometimes the wrong diagnosis is made despite the doctor’s best efforts.

How does differential diagnosis affect medical malpractice?

For a diagnostic error lawsuit, the patient must prove that another doctor would not have misdiagnosed or failed to diagnose the health condition under similar circumstances. This can be done by showing that the condition was not listed on the differential diagnosis list but that another doctor would have recognized the diagnosis or that the right diagnosis was on the list but the doctor failed to perform the necessary investigation to prove or disprove the possibility of the diagnosis.

The Seattle personal injury attorneys at Morrow Kidman Tinker Macey-Cushman, PLLC have years of experience representing families harmed by medical malpractice. We seek justice for patients who have been harmed by preventable medical errors including birth injuries, hospital-acquired infections and wrongful death in Seattle and across Washington State. There are no fees or expenses to file a personal injury case as we only receive payment if we recover damages on your behalf. Do not delay; personal injury claims come with a Statute of Limitations, which means they must be filed within a certain time frame of the injury.

Call us now at 206-842-1000 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation with one of our compassionate, experienced attorneys.