Knowledgeable and Experienced Guidance

Can physicians be held liable for a misdiagnosis?

On Behalf of | Sep 25, 2014 | Failure To Diagnose |

Patients in North Carolina may wonder what happens when their physician fails to diagnose their symptoms properly. This may have considerable impact on their ability to recover and cost them time away from work and increased medical expenses. It may also lead to irreparable harm.

Physicians generally assimilate information by asking questions and doing a physical exam. Emphasis is placed on the symptoms with which the patient presents. A differential diagnosis is established listing the most probable cause for the patient’s complaints first. In order to confirm or rule out presumptive diagnoses, tests are run for confirmation. A physician may fail to incorporate the proper diagnosis in the list. This may happen when patient complaints are overlooked or due to doctor error. The consequences may cause delayed or no treatment. Even if the correct diagnosis is determined at a later date, treatment may not achieve the same end, and the patient’s prognosis may be less robust.

Patients may wish to be compensated for this failure. if the doctor did not include a diagnosis that a reasonably prudent doctor would and the error affected the patient’s well-being, the doctor may be held liable for harm. If the patient was not treated in time or if the wrong malady was treated, the patient’s life expectancy may be shortened. Treating a disease with a less conventional therapy may also be viewed as negligent, particularly when proven modalities are available.

A patient harmed by doctor negligence due to misdiagnosis may experience increased medical bills, pain and suffering and lost wages. Since all cases are unique, the foregoing should not be construed as legal advice. Instead, it is advisable for a patient in such a situation to obtain the advice and counsel of a medical malpractice attorney.

Source: FindLaw, “Failed/Erroneous Diagnosis and Treatment“, FindLaw, September 24, 2014