Posted: February 6, 2017 | Last Updated: February 12, 2017
According to a 2013 study, diagnostic errors are the single most common type of medical malpractice claim. Diagnostic error is defined as a diagnosis that is missed, wrong, or delayed. The harm results from the delay or failure to treat a condition or from treatment provided for a condition that did not actually exist.
A misdiagnosis is an incorrect diagnosis. Misdiagnoses have become increasingly problematic for patients as many conditions that were once fatal are now treatable. Conditions such as strokes, heart attacks, and even cancer can now often be treated or prevented if properly diagnosed in a timely manner. Doctors have access to the tools necessary to diagnose imminent medical dangers, but if those tools are not used competently, lifesaving opportunities may pass.
Time is of the essence when treating a serious medical condition. Delayed diagnoses are among the most common medical malpractice cases. Despite advances in medical knowledge and technology, delayed diagnoses remain a serious patient safety issue. When healthcare providers fail to diagnose a patient in a timely manner, they put patients at a serious risk for complications and death.
It is important to diagnose medical conditions and administer the correct treatment as early as possible, especially when patients are suffering from diseases and disorders that can worsen if not promptly treated. Treatable problems can escalate and become much more serious if not addressed early. Cancer is a prime example of a condition that is often treatable if caught early but can spread throughout the body if not addressed.
Many of these diagnostic errors stem from doctors being hesitant to order enough or the right tests and lab work. In addition, many patients unfortunately suffer from both a misdiagnosis and delayed diagnosis. What begins as a misdiagnosis turns into a delayed diagnosis of the actual, correct condition resulting in unnecessary complications.
Delayed diagnoses frequently occur when a medical provider misreads tests or films (including CT scans, MRI scans, or x-ray), fails to perform the correct tests, or loses test results.
The human toll for diagnostic errors is tremendous and underappreciated. Recent data suggests that when patients see a doctor for a new problem, the error rate may be as high as 15 percent.
The diagnosis of any medical condition can be delayed or missed. However, some of the most common conditions that develop into life-threatening problems because of a delayed diagnosis include:
Unfortunately, these errors are not just limited to doctors. In offices throughout the nation, nurse practitioners and physician assistants do a substantial amount of one-on-one work with patients either before they see the doctor, or without seeing a doctor at all. Nurse practitioners and physician assistants are not trained in the same manner as doctors, and they can make mistakes in diagnosing the patients.
The first thing to do is complete the contact form at the bottom of this page. That way, you can put in details that we can review before we schedule a phone call.
You can also call us at 216-777-8856 if you prefer.
You will likely not speak to us immediately, but will schedule a phone or in-person meeting. Why? Because we’re busy working on the important cases other families have entrusted to us. Just like we would not constantly take phone calls when we’re entrusted to work on your case.
You should also gather all the records and papers you have from the medical providers, go back and look for dates, names, and events that happened, and otherwise prepare to discuss the case. We’ll have a meeting and, if it seems like a case we’d be a good fit for, we’ll move into an investigation phase.
Once we’ve investigated, we’ll candidly tell you what we think about what happened, whether the medical provider is to blame, and what we think about the strength of the case.
Fair warning: we only take on clients whose cases we believe have very strong merits. We’re not lazy—the cases are still very complex, difficult, and expensive—but the risk to your family of being drawn into a difficult process with little chance of a positive outcome is not something we do.
Which means when we do take on a case, our reputation tells the other side this is a serious case we believe in.
If for whatever reason we do not take on the case, and we think there is some merit to the case, we’ll try and help you find a lawyer who might take it on.