Despite advances in technology, misdiagnosis and delayed diagnosis remain a leading cause of medical malpractice claims. Diagnostic errors by doctors and other medical professionals continue to cause patients untold pain and suffering and even wrongful death. Some of the contributing factors that lead to a faulty diagnosis include:
- Rushed appointments: Doctors are busy. Medical clinics, like other businesses, are beset by financial pressures to treat as many patients as they can in as brief a time period as possible. In an atmosphere of rushed appointments, a doctor can overlook warning signs of disease, allowing it to progress untreated.
- Fragmentation of care: There is a benefit in treating with a single physician who works with you throughout the course of your medical problem and possesses a total grasp of your symptoms, treatment and overall patient profile. In today’s health care world, patients often see a number of physicians for a single medical condition, and oftentimes the benefits of that single focus are lost. When a doctor only sees a fraction of the big picture and must make crucial diagnostic decisions, mistakes can result.
- Miscommunication: Failures in communication between departments and between different practitioners are a symptom of the above-mentioned fragmentation. Accurate and timely diagnoses rely upon clear and open communication regarding test results, examinations, patient complaints and other factors. A practitioner who neglects or misinterprets a single detail may lose the chance at that accurate and timely diagnosis.
- Human failings: Physicians are human beings and, like anyone else, can succumb to overconfidence and stubbornness when diagnosing diseases. Failure to consider alternative interpretations of diagnostic tests can cheat patients out of a chance at an early diagnosis and successful treatment.
By better understanding the underlying causes of medical misdiagnoses, we can begin to lessen the harmful impact it has on patients. If you or someone close to you has suffered due to misdiagnosis, delayed diagnosis or any form of malpractice, you have legal options that are available to you.