Seeking medical advice about a pain or other unusual symptom is not always easy, especially when it takes numerous trips to the doctor before you feel your complaints are taken seriously. Nevertheless, after repeated trips to the emergency room, your general practitioner or specialists, you may finally receive a frightening diagnosis and learn that doctors should have recognized the signs of your real illness earlier.
This becomes a tragedy when an illness continues to progress while doctors misdiagnose you, often treating you for a condition you do not have. You may be surprised to know how often this happens and how easily the diagnostic process can break down.
Where do the errors happen?
The most common reason for medical malpractice insurance claims is diagnostic errors. Doctors rarely make a diagnosis on their own and rely on nurses, lab technicians, radiologists, consulting physicians and others. At any step along the way, someone on the diagnostic team may fail to complete his or her task competently or attentively, for example:
- Nurses failing to gather a complete medical background, including personal and family history
- Doctors skipping the physical exam
- Doctors failing to order the appropriate lab work
- Doctors failing to prescribe genetic or age-based screening
- Lab technicians making mistakes during the testing of samples
- Radiologists misreading images
- Consultants misinterpreting test results and symptoms
- Medical professionals failing to report results to patients or their doctors
While over half of diagnostic errors seem to occur during the lab testing phase, a shocking number occur from the earliest moments of your visit to the doctor when the medical staff fails to take a complete history and physical exam. From that point, the rest of the team may base its actions and conclusions on an incomplete medical profile, including dismissing the need for valuable testing.
Despite the urging of researchers to improve the techniques doctors use to diagnose patient complaints, your doctor may be among the many in Georgia who rely on old protocol that leaves many gaps and potential for error. This is especially dangerous if your undiagnosed illness is progressive, such as cancer.
If you have suffered because of a missed or mistaken diagnosis, you are likely dealing with serious ramifications, perhaps even reaching the point where your condition is untreatable. You likely have many questions about your options for seeking justice for your suffering and the struggles the diagnostic errors cost your family. A skilled attorney with experience in medical malpractice cases can answer your questions and offer options.