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Wrong or missed diagnosis carries serious consequences

The treatment a patient receives is dependent upon a doctor's diagnosis. An accurate diagnosis often leads to quick and efficient treatment that may leave a patient completely healed of her condition. If, on the other hand, a doctor gives a missed diagnosis the results can have dire consequences. Serious injuries and death caused by medical malpractice like this can ruin lives and families.

Many studies have been conducted over the years showing the prevalence of wrong or missed diagnoses. According to one such study, inaccurate diagnoses in American intensive care units led to as many deaths per year as breast cancer. Another report found that 500,000 diagnostic errors occur in the primary care setting every year with most resulting in significant patient harm. Some believe these errors can be attributed to doctors being unaware of their mistakes because victims find another doctor and general overconfidence amongst doctors.

Those who are harmed by preventable medical errors, including missed or inaccurate diagnoses, can be left in serious condition. If cancer or another disease is missed the consequences may be fatal. The physical ailment may make recovery difficult, which can be further inhibited by an inability to afford medical care. A medical malpractice lawsuit may help a victim afford much needed medical care.

When a doctor accepts an individual as his patient he owes that patient a duty of care. If this duty of care is breached and the patient is injured as a result, then medical malpractice has occurred. Once these aspects are proven a wronged patient may be able to recover compensation. Or, alternatively, the mere threat of a lawsuit may drive a negligent hospital or doctor to settle a claim in order to avoid court.

If awards are obtained, the victim may be able to get the best care available. Perhaps then a full recovery can be made possible. Additionally, since many doctors are overconfident about their diagnostic abilities, a lawsuit for a missed or inaccurate diagnosis may put errant doctors in their rightful place where caution overcomes ego.

Source: Daily Herald, "Misdiagnosis can have huge impact on patients," Sandra G. Boodman, May 13, 2013

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