Doctors take an oath not to cause harm, but they are human and not immune to making errors. In cases where a mistake was preventable, a doctor may wind up liable for the damages.
Not all medical mistakes cause harm, and some mistakes may stem from conclusions that any reasonable physician might make. Medical malpractice law does not usually consider these types of errors to be negligence. However, when a practitioner goes against the usual standard of care in some way and causes harm, the law allows an injured patient to take legal action. Here are some common mistakes doctors make that can end up in court.
When patients tell the doctor about their symptoms, he or she uses that information to reach a diagnosis. Some issues require more than a list of symptoms; they call for testing to reach a diagnosis. In some malpractice cases, a doctor has not done all the testing a patient’s condition indicates is necessary.
Failure to order the correct tests may lead to a worsening of the patient’s health because it delays treatment. If a patient has a disease such as cancer, this lost time may lead to a higher risk of early death.
Often, the primary physician is not the person who conducts the tests. He or she may not be the one who interprets the results and writes the reports. Even so, the doctor has the responsibility of seeking clarification when the reports are not clear and making sure he or she understands the implications of the results.
Without this clarity, a doctor may reach the wrong diagnosis, leading to the wrong treatment or a failure to treat. If a test result leads to more questions than answers, the doctor must take further steps, such as ordering a second round of tests or a different type of tests altogether.