Medical Malpractice - Understanding Failure To Diagnose

Injuries that occur due to the negligence of a doctor or other medical professional are the result of medical malpractice. However, medical malpractice cases can vary greatly, with individuals often wondering if the doctor really is to blame for an injury. If you think that this type of injury may have occurred to you, then keep reading to learn a little bit more about failure to diagnose medical malpractice to see if this type of medical negligence fits your case.

Understanding Failure To Diagnose

The failure or delay of a doctor to diagnose a disease is one of the most common reasons why individuals sue doctors for medical malpractice. In fact, between about 26% and 63% of all lawsuits that claim negligence on the part of a doctor state that the physician failed to diagnose a disease. In many cases, the result of this malpractice is death due to missing the symptoms of a type of cancer. However, you may also have a claim if you are currently undergoing treatments after stage four cancer was found in your body. This is especially true if symptoms were considered classic and you informed your physician about them.

For example, if you made an appointment with your physician claiming that you have started to cough up blood, experience shortness of breath, and you have also started to feel sharp pains in your chest, then your physician should have suspected lung cancer. If you are also a smoker, then a screening test should be suggested, according to the CDC, with the use of low-dose computed tomography. This should be followed by an MRI or CT scan and a biopsy.

If the screening was not suggested or if the doctor does not follow up with further tests after receiving a positive screening result, then this is a case of failure to diagnose. This is also true for any other disease that presents with straightforward symptoms and tests are either not completed or test results are ignored. However, you should understand that you probably cannot sue your doctor if he or she felt that your symptoms were ambiguous and general testing was completed to find the cause of your disease. If this occurred and the cancer was missed or discovered later, then this is probably not your doctor's fault.

Claim Requirements

If you feel strongly that you have a strong failure to diagnose case against a physician, then you should understand that your case needs to meet a certain set of requirements before you can file a lawsuit. For example, you must have an existing relationship with the doctor. In most cases, you should have seen this doctor at their office and the doctor should have agreed to take you on as a patient. If you decide to ask a doctor that you meet in a restaurant about the pain and other lung symptoms you are experiencing and the physician does not inform you that you may have lung cancer, you cannot sue this physician. This is true even if the doctor probably should have known that lung cancer was a possibility, like if you were speaking to an oncologist. There was no established relationship to base the negligence on though. 

Also, the physician you sue must be the individual who is directly responsible for your injury. For example, if you decide to see a doctor after smoking for 25 years and you are diagnosed with cancer, your physician may decide to prescribe a non-aggressive treatment approach. If your cancer then spreads, you likely cannot sue your doctor.

While the physician may have been conservative about treatment, this is legal as long as the treatment is considered consistent with the standard of care that would be provided by another physician. This standard of care cannot be determined by you. It must be determined by a medical board or a competent medical professional. Standard of care may be debatable, but you will need one or several statements provided by medical professionals to prove that your physician was negligent when treating you.