It can be devastating to receive a diagnosis of a serious medical condition. But it is even more stressful to know that something is wrong with you — and have your doctor tell you that you are fine. If you are ultimately diagnosed with a life-threatening illness, this failure to diagnose could even cost you your life.
Diagnostic errors are common in the United States. According to a Harvard Medical Practice Study, 17% of all preventable errors in hospitalized patients came from diagnostic errors. A review of autopsy studies over 40 years found that 9% of patients experienced a major diagnostic error that was never detected while the patient was alive.
According to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), these studies demonstrate that thousands of hospitalized patients die each year due to diagnostic errors. These errors — including a failure to diagnose — are due to a variety of causes, and can lead to injury and death.
Based in Port Jefferson, Winkler Kurtz, LLP is a law firm that is dedicated to helping victims of medical malpractice. Our tenacious Long Island failure to diagnose lawyers advocate for our clients’ right to compensation. Call our office today at 631-928-8000 or contact us online to set up an appointment with our team.
Why a Timely Diagnosis is Important
In any number of medical conditions, getting prompt medical treatment is critical to a full recovery. For some conditions, early detection and treatment may mean the difference between life and death.
If a doctor fails to properly recognize the symptoms of an illness and diagnose a condition, it can cause serious medical harm. For example, if a patient presents with chest pain and the doctor fails to perform any diagnostic testing, the patient may later have a heart attack. The doctor’s negligence may have caused additional harm, or lowered the chances of the patient surviving the heart attack.
Perhaps the most common form of delayed diagnoses is cancer. A patient may complain of certain symptoms, and the doctor either fails to perform tests or does not choose the correct tests to detect cancer. In these situations, the patient’s cancer can grow (metastasize) and potentially become untreatable.
Other common conditions that may result in a delayed diagnosis include:
- Pulmonary embolism
- Heart attacks
- Brain cancer
- Blood clots
- Internal bleeding
If a doctor fails to diagnose a medical condition, and this failure results in medical harm, then you may be entitled to compensation. Importantly, if you believe that something is wrong after a doctor dismisses your symptoms, you can and should seek a second opinion.
How Delayed Diagnoses Can Happen
According to the AHRQ, there are four primary ways that diagnostic errors happen. Each comes down to the use of the “rules of thumb” that doctors often use to diagnose patients with common symptoms. While these shortcuts can be helpful, they may result in errors and delayed diagnoses.
The four errors that most commonly lead to diagnostic errors include:
- Availability: the diagnosis of the current patient is biased by experiences with past cases
- Anchoring: reliance on an initial diagnostic test, despite later information that contradicts it;
- Framing effects: decision-making that is biased by subtle cues and collateral information; and
- Blind obedience: relying too much on test results or “expert” opinion.
For example, if a doctor gave a patient a rapid test for strep throat that came back negative, the “blind obedience” bias may lead the doctor to fail to diagnose the patient with strep throat — even though the patient had objective symptoms of it. The framing effects bias may cause a doctor to dismiss a heroin-addicted patient’s claims of abdominal pain due to the belief that the patient was drug-seeking, even though the patient had symptoms of a bowel perforation.
In our modern healthcare system, where profits are often placed head of patient care, delayed diagnosis can also simply be a result of doctors having too little time to see too many patients. Whatever the cause may be, if you have been injured by a failure to diagnose, you may be entitled to compensation.
Help from a Long Island Failure to Diagnose Lawyer
If you or a loved one has suffered a serious injury due to a doctor’s failure to diagnose your illness, Winkler Kurtz, LLP can help. In many cases, a doctor or medical facility will not admit to a mistake. A skilled Long Island failure to diagnose lawyer can aggressively pursue your claim to help you get the compensation that you deserve.
The team of professionals at Winkler Kurtz, LLP have over 75 years of combined legal experience. We are passionate about helping victims of medical malpractice obtain justice. Call us today at 631-928-8000 or contact us online to schedule a consultation with a Long Island failure to diagnose lawyer.