Although a diagnosis can be simple in some cases, it is usually a complex process because different diseases tend to have similar symptoms. In cases where a physician is not able to pinpoint the exact cause of particular symptoms, he needs to follow a systematic process to ensure he comes up with the most accurate diagnosis. Since a delayed diagnosis may affect a patient’s survival or healing, the process should also be timely. Failure to conduct the diagnosis in time can constitute grounds for a medical malpractice if the delay causes the patient’s condition to worsen.
To determine if an erroneous diagnosis or misdiagnosis amounts to a medical malpractice, it is important to determine if there are other more ideal diagnoses the doctor would have applied to know the exact cause of a patient’s problem. When diagnosing the cause of a patient’s symptoms, doctors are required to create a differential diagnosis. A differential diagnosis refers to a list of all possible diseases that can cause the patient’s signs and symptoms. If it emerges that a physician ignored the true diagnosis on his list, then the scenario amounts to a medical malpractice. It can also amount to the malpractice if the physician fails to conduct additional tests to rule out particular conditions on the differential diagnosis. In these cases, the patient or his family can sue the doctor.
Although a doctor may be held responsible for an erroneous diagnosis, it may be difficult for a patient to win the case due to insufficient evidence. For instance, a patient may argue that a doctor delayed a particular cancer diagnosis, and this led to the spread of the cancer to other parts of the patient’s body. However, the physician may argue that the diagnosis of the cancer in question occurs after the disease has already spread to other body tissues. In this case, it may not be possible to hold the doctor liable.
Erroneous Treatment and Failure to Treat
Typically, a patient undergoes treatment based on the results of a diagnosis. If the patient has had an erroneous diagnosis, he may undergo a treatment for a condition that he does not suffer from. This is called an erroneous treatment. In this scenario, the treatment or medication that the patient receives may harm him. The harm can even be more because the actual condition may remain untreated. In extreme cases, erroneous treatments may result in wrongful deaths. This scenario may amount to negligence.
In most cases, physicians are sued for negligence if they deny a patient treatment because they feel the patient’s symptoms are mild and cannot cause any harm. Denying a patient treatment on this basis may cause the symptoms to develop and get worse, resulting in more harm. For instance, if a doctor fails to diagnose a chip or a splinter in a broken bone, the splinter may lodge in the soft tissue that is adjacent to the broken bone. The sharp edge of the undiagnosed splinter may also cause internal bleeding, which harms the patient further.
Although erroneous treatments mostly result from erroneous diagnoses, some doctors may diagnose diseases correctly but fail to administer proper treatments. In some cases, negligence occurs when physicians try to apply a novel approach during treatments. A novel approach is where a physician tests a new treatment method on a patient to determine if the method works. For instance, a doctor may use a drug for a particular disease in treating another disease with similar symptoms. Although the two diseases may have different causes, the novel treatment may still work. However, the treatment may fail to work in some cases, causing the patient’s condition to worsen. If the new method fails to work where a conventional method would have resolved the patient’s problem, the scenario may amount to negligence.
Erroneous Diagnosis Claims
Claims regarding erroneous diagnoses and treatments are difficult to prove when a patient is pursuing a legal recourse. For a claim to qualify as a misdiagnosis, it has to meet one or more of the following conditions:
• The doctor failed to conduct a test or diagnosis in time.
• The doctor misinterpreted test results, leading to an improper treatment.
• The patient’s condition would have been cured or improved had the doctor conducted the correct diagnosis in time.
• The doctor failed to competently perform correct diagnosis based on the patient’s symptoms.
Medical Malpractice in Oklahoma
A diagnostic mistake is a common form of medical malpractices in Oklahoma City. An error in diagnosis is very dangerous because it affects an entire treatment process of a patient and can lead to a wrongful death in some cases. Proper representation of medical malpractice victims in Oklahoma calls for dedication and proper scientific, medical, and legal knowledge. When a patient in Oklahoma decides to take a legal action against a doctor or nurse for a malpractice, the medical expert being sued usually develops evidence to dissociate him from the claims. In fact, most of the cases related to medical malpractices are won by doctors’ insurance and medical facilities. This makes it difficult for patients to win cases of this nature. Hence, having a competent medical malpractice attorney on your side is important in ensuring you get compensated
There are many OKC medical malpractice attorneys. However, only a few of these attorneys may have adequate competence and experience in winning cases related to medical malpractices. You can get proper legal representation at Clark & Mitchell, P.C. if you or your loved one gets injured in the hands of a medical facility or professional. Clark & Mitchell, P.C. is a legal firm based in Oklahoma City.