When doctors make mistakes, the consequences can be devastating. People who suffer this type of harm look for ways to get redress. Litigants feel motivated by the fact that a medical error can vastly increase medical bills, cause pain, disability and loss of the ability to earn money. On an emotional level, many people feel strongly that fairness demands the punishment of a physician who causes this kind of suffering.
Basic requirements for a malpractice suit
Doctors make mistakes all the time. Not all of them offer grounds for a lawsuit. The basic principles of any medical malpractice case require both that the mistake violate accepted standards of care and that harm ensue as a result. For example, if a patient catches a doctor making a mistake, even a very stupid one, but no one suffers because of it, there is unlikely to be grounds for a lawsuit. Conversely, sometimes a patient has a bad outcome even when doctors do everything right.
Failing to diagnose
Failure to diagnose is among the most common types of medical malpractice. This category often includes a doctor’s complete failure to catch signs of a health problem. A common scenario occurs when a patient presents with particular symptoms and the doctor fails to draw the right conclusions or do further diagnostic work. As a result, he or she does not get the needed treatment and the condition progresses.
Another scenario is when the doctor makes the wrong diagnosis and proceeds to treat the wrong condition while failing to do anything about the actual problem. In such a case, damage can happen both from the lack of proper treatment and from the wrong treatment.
Finally, a delayed diagnosis catches the real problem eventually but often not until after it has developed further. Many serious diseases, including cancer, are far easier to treat during their early stages. As they spread, they affect other systems throughout the body and become harder to deal with.
Not all mistakes qualify as malpractice
Not all mistakes rise to the level of malpractice. The law does not expect doctors to get everything right every time. Even when harm results, the mistake must violate accepted standards of medical care. These typically depend on the state of knowledge in a particular medical field, as well as standard procedures for diagnosis and treatment. Experienced malpractice attorneys work with medical experts to determine whether a physician followed the right steps or not.
A medical mistake can cause an unlucky patient serious injuries, pain, financial loss and even death. This type of lawsuit involves many complicated topics and specialized knowledge. For this reason, if people are thinking about seeking legal recourse for a failure to diagnose, it is essential to look for a highly qualified attorney with experience in this area so that they can fight for clients’ best interests to the fullest possible extent.