One of the common causes of medical malpractice claims in the United States is the failure to diagnose. A failed or inaccurate diagnosis can have serious consequences.
MR. THOMAS L. GOWEN: One of the most important areas that we find in the field of medical malpractice is the failure to make a diagnosis when a patient comes to a doctor, to an emergency room or to a hospital for treatment of a medical condition. People come to the doctors because they are relying upon them to use their skills and their training and the tools that are at their disposal such as MRI’s and CAT scans to make diagnoses of the pain or other problems that they are suffering when they come to the office or to the hospital.
Frequently, a patient will present with a symptom such as a severe headache or neck pain, chest pain that can mimic more common conditions and, unfortunately, too often doctors in the emergency room setting or the family practitioner setting will simply make the diagnosis of a common condition, rather than ruling out a more serious condition such as a hemorrhagic stroke, which means a bleed in the brain, or a spinal abscess or a heart attack.
In another context, you have the failure to diagnose cancer and in those situations, it’s usually a matter of a failure to order something like a mammogram or a failure to get a biopsy or a failure to read it correctly and then the person does not get prompt and adequate treatment and what happens in these cases is that because the condition was not diagnosed when it was initially presented, the person goes on to a much worse result than they would otherwise have experienced if the doctor had ruled out or tried to rule out and found that they actually did have a serious condition that needed to be treated promptly.
This is when you have a case and we have done a lot of cases involving failure to diagnose stroke, heart attacks, spinal abscesses and cancer and we can evaluate these cases with our own staff and with our experts and bring these cases when they are meritorious, when people have suffered serious damage as a result of a failure to make a diagnosis.