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Medical Negligence: Misdiagnosis and Failure to Diagnose

Medical malpractice is described as an action made by a medical professional that is outside of the accepted standard of care by those in similar medical care positions. Malpractice is not limited to just doctors. Anyone who is in the medical field and provides direct care to the patient can be held responsible for malpractice.


It is very important that you do not mix up the poor outcome, dissatisfaction, or failure to respond to treatment as malpractice. There is not a single medical procedure or treatment that has a 100 percent guarantee that it will work and all treatments come with some form a risk. For malpractice to occur, the actions of the medical professional must cause harm to the patient.


Misdiagnosis and Failure to Diagnose


One of the areas of malpractice that is commonly seen by a personal injury lawyer in OKC is misdiagnosis or failure to diagnose. This can be a difficult type of case to prove, but it is not impossible. For a successful medical malpractice case to proceed, the attorney must prove the following four facts:


  • There was an obligation of duty between the medical professional and the patient. This means that there was a working relationship between the patient and the care provider.
  • The duty was broken when the medical care provider acted negligently in their duties.
  • This breach of duties led to the patient being harmed.
  • This harm has led to damages experienced by the patient.


In the case of misdiagnosis or failure to diagnose, your attorney will have to show:


  • Other medical professionals with the same experience, training, or specialty would have acted differently and would have discovered the true cause of the medical problem being experienced by the patient.
  • Failure of the medical care professional to correctly diagnose the disorder has led to harm of the patient
  • This injury or harm has caused the patient to suffer losses, such as the requirement for additional medical care and costs, lost time from work for proper treatment, or other, more serious losses.


Example of a misdiagnosis case. A 65-year-old woman presents to the doctor with a sore shoulder area. The pain seems to be radiating into the collar bone area. The woman says that the onset of symptoms seemed gradual, but the real noticeable pain seems to have happened “overnight.” The woman has no other real medical conditions and leads a somewhat active lifestyle. She does not drink and quit smoking 20 years ago. The woman also stated that she was working in her garden the day before she noticed the sharp pain beginning.


The doctor, being overworked and overbooked, attributes the pain in the woman’s shoulder area as age-related aches and pains and prescribes a stronger version of an over the counter medication and tells her to ice up the area when it hurts. No further exam or testing or x-rays was conducted.


Four months later, the woman is rushed into the emergency room due to the excruciating pain in her shoulder area that has never gone away. Upon further exam, it is discovered that the woman had classic symptoms of lung cancer, and if it was diagnosed only a few months ago, the outcome for her current treatment would be much different.


By failing to give the woman a closer exam, ask more relevant questions or conduct testing, the original doctor failed to diagnose early-stage cancer in the patient. This is a form of medical malpractice because there were many indicating factors that this was a possibility for the pain in her shoulder.


When You Think You Are A Victim Of Malpractice


If you believe that you are a victim of medical malpractice, the first thing that you should do after stabilizing your condition is to find legal assistance from a personal injury lawyer in OKC. Oklahoma law regarding malpractice is very complicated, and legal assistance will be necessary for your case.


Once you have hired an attorney, the next thing that you should do is begin to document everything that you remember about your illness or injury, the treatment you received or failed to receive, and the outcome of this failed treatment. This will be very relevant information for your attorney to use to help build your case.


The next thing that you should do is begin to keep an injury journal. This journal should document everything surrounding your injury and your losses. Document how you feel if it is good or bad and keep it honest. When you have good days, make sure to document them as much as the bad.


Document restrictions you are experiencing as a result of the injury. Document expenses that are directly connected to the injury. Document what you talked about when you went to the new treating physician or physical therapy. You are building a case to show how this failure to diagnose or a misdiagnosis has impacted your life.


The Problem With Social Media And Malpractice Cases


Social media has become one of the main ways that people communicate with their friends and family. The insurance company covering your malpractice case knows this and will monitor your social media account for information they can use to deny your claim.


It is very important that you post as little information as possible about your injury, your losses, how the accident happened, how you think it happened, and how you feel about the medical care provider. Saying aggressive things about the doctor being accused of malpractice makes you look hostile in the eyes of the insurer and of the court, and this is not good for your case.


You should also avoid posting pictures of yourself or your activities at this time. This also includes older pictures. The insurer does not know that the picture of you skiing was from last year. In their eyes, you are out skiing and not physically harmed in any way. Pictures of you at celebrations and laughing can also be taken the wrong way. Your best bet is to limit yourself on social media, and never accept any friend requests from anyone you do not physically know until your case is closed.


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