When we see our family practitioner for something simple like a sore throat, we are not too shocked when told it is a common cold but find out later it is actually strep. These cases of minor misdiagnosis are relatively common and do little if any harm. Unfortunately for patients, more dangerous cases of misdiagnosis are equally as common and carry with them the threat of major, life-altering complications.
Receiving a misdiagnosis by a medical provider is one of the most common reasons that medical malpractice actions are filed. These cases can be filed when a doctor fails to provide a diagnosis, provides the wrong diagnosis or offers treatment based on the wrong diagnosis. Studies have shown that anywhere from 10 to 30 percent of all medical cases results in some type of diagnostic error. Although some of these may not harm a patient, many of them do and may even result in death.
Although we hold our medical doctors to a higher standard of practice, not all providers have the same level of training, knowledge or experience. Many times, a misdiagnosis happens as the result of a lack of skill in one of these areas. It is important for patients to understand their right to ask questions. Although medical professionals may be intimidating, patients should not be reluctant to seek a second opinion when being given a questionable diagnosis.
Although we trust doctors to provide us with an accurate diagnosis, we should consider ourselves the foremost experts on our own health. Sometimes our intuition is our best defense, and for patients that feel uneasy about the diagnosis they have been given, seeking a second opinion may be for the best.
If you or a family member has suffered a loss due to a doctor's misdiagnosis of your condition, you may be able to seek damages through a medical malpractice action. Speaking to an experienced medical malpractice attorney can help patients identify wrongdoing and receive the compensation they need recover.