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Failure to Diagnose

Working with Clients who Have Been Injured by a Medical Professional’s Failure to Diagnose

Medical malpractice is a broad category of tort law that encompasses many different forms of negligence, including wrongful death, surgical errors, and medication errors. Errors surrounding medical diagnoses are also quite common in medical malpractice suits. Below, we’ll take a look at one of the most common reasons for medical malpractice actions: failure to diagnose.

What is Failure to Diagnose?

Failure to diagnose (also known as misdiagnosis), occurs when a doctor fails to correctly diagnose a patient’s illness and that failure results in injury to the patient. However, not all diagnostic mistakes amount to medical malpractice. In order to rise to the level of malpractice, the error must by one that a physician exercising reasonable care and skill would not have made. In addition, the diagnostic error must result in improper medical care, delayed treatment, or no treatment at all, which must then, in turn, worsen the patient’s medical condition.

For example, failure to diagnose would occur if a patient sees his doctor complaining of chest pains and the doctor diagnosis them as muscle tension, when the patient was actually having a heart attack. As a result of the doctor’s failure to diagnose and treat the correct condition, the patient dies. In that case, the patient likely could prove that his doctor committed malpractice; the doctor failed to correctly diagnose the patient’s condition, thereby causing the patient injury.

Proving a Failure to Diagnose Claim

Most medical malpractice claims boil down to negligence and thus require a showing of duty, breach, causation, and damages. In order to prove a failure to diagnose claim, a plaintiff would have to show:

Duty: This one is fairly easy. All doctors owe their patients a duty to provide the degree of care and skill that the average health care provider who practices the doctor’s specialty would provide. This is known as the “medical standard of care” and applies generally to all medical professionals.

Breach: Next, the plaintiff would have to show that the doctor’s behavior fell below the required standard of care. This breach could be established in a failure to diagnose claim by a showing that the patient presented all of the textbook symptoms of Condition A, but the doctor missed these and incorrectly diagnosed the patient’s symptoms as Condition B.

Causation: The plaintiff must also show that the doctor’s breach was the actual cause of his injuries. In other words, he has to show that he would not have been injured were it not for the doctor’s breach. The plaintiff could prove this by showing that his injuries got significantly worse and that this caused later treatment to be less effective.

Damages: Damages are the injuries that the plaintiff suffers. In a failure to diagnose claim, this would be the plaintiff’s additional medical bills and dismissed prognosis as a result of the failure to diagnose.

Call Slappey & Sadd, LLC Today to Speak with an Atlanta Medical Malpractice Lawyer

Failure to diagnose can cause serious and life-threatening injuries. If you believe that your doctor failed to diagnose your injury, contact the attorneys at Slappey & Sadd for a free consultation to discuss your case by calling 404.255.6677 or by sending us an email through our online contact form. We serve the entire state of Georgia, including the following locations: Fulton County, Cobb County, and DeKalb County.

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