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Differential diagnosis and medical malpractice

Quick and accurate diagnosis of a medical condition is key to one's ability to successfully treat and, hopefully, beat a disease or illness. Yet, medical diagnosis is a complicated process, especially since many conditions can exhibit similar symptoms, and some key characteristics of a disease or other medical condition may be hard to detect unless the proper tests are conducted. This is why doctors receive years of education and on-the-job training.

Though this should make Floridians feel more at ease with regard to the care they receive from their medical professionals, the sad reality is that misdiagnoses and wrong diagnoses are made too frequently. Those who are affected by these errors can be left with a worsened medical condition and significant physical, emotional and financial losses.

In an attempt to recover these losses, an individual can try to seek compensation through a medical malpractice lawsuit. In a missed diagnosis or wrong diagnosis case, a victim may need to look at a doctor's differential diagnosis. This is procedure by which a doctor lists possible diagnoses in descending order of probability and his or her impressions of the condition. The doctor should then consider each condition and explain why that condition has been ruled out, if indeed it is ruled out.

If a doctor fails to perform differential diagnosis, doesn't identify the correct condition through the process or fails to rule out certain diagnoses, then medical negligence may have occurred. There may be other ways to prove negligence in the context of diagnostic errors.

Those that have been affected by these tragic mishaps may want to consider the legal options available to them. A misdiagnosis or a delayed treatment could be very detrimental to the health and wellbeing of a patient. Thus, a patient could suffer many losses and damages and a medical malpractice claim could help offset the hardships caused.

Source: FindLaw, "Failed/Erroneous Diagnosis and Treatment," accessed on July 29, 2016

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