Medical professionals put in a lot of time and effort to get where they are. They spend years in medical school and residency to learn what they need to know to treat patients, and most of them need years, if not decades, to become fully proficient in their area of expertise. Some would think that this means that doctors and nurses are less likely to commit errors, but the sad truth is that medical malpractice occurs all the time.
While all forms of medical malpractice are dangerous, misdiagnosis can be especially harmful. When a disease goes unnoticed it can fester and worsen, causing a worsened medical condition and even a poor prognosis. In the worst cases, a misdiagnosis can cause a medical condition to progress to the point where it is no longer treatable. This means that a doctor’s error can lead to fatal consequences.
Medical misdiagnosis: statistics and causes
Misdiagnosis is probably more common than you think, too. In fact, one study found that as many as 12 million Americans are subjected to a misdiagnosis or missed diagnosis each year. Up to 80,000 people affected by these diagnostic errors are killed each year due to that medical malpractice committed by doctors. Women and minorities are more likely to be subjected to misdiagnosis.
There’s no one root cause of medical misdiagnosis and missed diagnoses. In some instances, medical professionals simply aren’t attentive enough to spot irregularities on test results, and in other instances doctors fail to order the proper tests to begin with. Symptoms can be misinterpreted, too, which can allow a medical condition to go untreated for months or years.
What you can do about misdiagnosis
The truth of the matter is that not all misdiagnoses and missed diagnoses are the result of medical malpractice. This means that if you suspect that you or a loved one has been subjected to medical malpractice, then you need to take active steps to preserve your legal claim.
To start, ask questions. Try to figure out what happened and why. Be sure to take notes about how your medical professional responds, and keep all written correspondences from them and the hospital. You also need to obtain and retain your medical records.
You’ve probably discovered your medical condition from another medical professional. If that’s the case, then consider discussing your previous care with them to try to figure out what else could have been done to catch the condition in question sooner. After all, in a lot of medical malpractice cases expert testimony is crucial to showing what a doctor should or should not have done under the circumstances.
Lastly, you need to carefully track your damages. This means keeping your hospital bills and trying to get a clear sense of your future needs as far as medical care and rehabilitation is concerned. You’ll also want to take into account how the misdiagnosis has affected your or your loved one’s career and earning capacity. There’s not doubt that you’ve been subjected to pain and suffering, too, so try to think of the best way to paint a picture that shows how the misdiagnosis has affected your or your loved one’s life.
Find help building your medical malpractice claim
Taking legal action can be stressful, especially if you’re going up against a well-respected doctor and hospital. But errant medical professionals and their employers need to be held accountable for their actions. That’s why you may want to consider seeking out legal assistance. After all, with the help of a skilled legal professional, you may be able to increase your chances of finding accountability and recovering the compensation you or your loved one deserves.