You aren’t feeling well. You haven’t been feeling well for a few months now. You are short of breath, constantly tired, and just don’t feel like yourself. When you saw your doctor, he said it was just a cold. He told you to get some rest and try taking cold medicine. You know it is more than just a cold but your doctor disagrees. A few more weeks go by and you are not getting any better. You end up in the ER for shortness of breath. The ER doctor requests a chest x-ray and upon examination sees something odd. He writes up a referral and sends you to a specialist who does a CT and PET scan. The specialist discovers a mass in your lungs. You have lung cancer and it has spread to other parts of your body. There was a failure to diagnose by your primary doctor. What can you do now?
In most cases, if a failure to diagnose results in injury or in disease progression that occurs above and beyond had it been diagnosed in a timely manner, doctors can be held liable. This can be tough to prove especially in cases of cancer since it is difficult to determine exactly when the cancerous cells began. You should consult an attorney if you believe you are a victim of failure to diagnose.
Failure to diagnose is one of the biggest reasons behind a malpractice suit. In order to prove that it was malpractice there are four things that need to be proven:
1. Duty of Care – You must prove that the doctor was responsible for the medical care of you. You had a doctor-patient relationship.
2. Breach of the duty of care – The doctor made a misdiagnosis while you were in his care.
3. Harm or injury – Harm or injury occurred such as a more serious medical condition.
4. The breach of the duty of care caused your injury or harm – You have to prove that the injury or harm was directly related to the breach of the duty to care by the doctor. You developed a more severe condition due to failure to diagnose.
It is your responsibility to make sure your doctor knows your medical history, current medications, and all symptoms you may be having to help him diagnose you properly. If you do not share these with him, then it may not be medical malpractice or failure to diagnose.
It may be considered medical malpractice or failure to diagnose if your doctor:
- Doesn’t ask you about your medical history. For example, if certain forms of cancer run in your family or if you smoke, this will help him know that you may be predisposed to cancer of certain types.
- Does not order proper tests and/or screenings
- Doesn’t recognize your symptoms
- Misinterprets test results
- Fails to provide the quality care that other reasonably competent doctors would provide under similar circumstances
Medical malpractice and failure to diagnose can be very difficult to prove. Just because you were not diagnosed correctly does not mean you have a strong case. You need to contact an experienced attorney to discuss your case. The attorney will help you determine if you have a case and help you decide what to do about it.