Can I Allege Malpractice for a Failure to Diagnose?

It’s already difficult enough if we or a loved one are going through a medical issue. Much less, to find out that a doctor could have saved some of that grief had they diagnosed the issue in the first place. Although this can be frustrating, a doctor can only do so much. Sometimes, they don’t have all the information they need in order to make a diagnosis. In this case, they will shy away from officially diagnosing it because a false diagnosis can be just as disastrous as not diagnosed at all. However, when a doctor has plenty to go on and misdiagnosis or failure to diagnose occurs and there are dire consequences, malpractice laws are in place to ensure a patient and their family receive justice.

Proving Malpractice

Although it can be frustrating to pay large sums out to doctors and get no answers only for major issues to arise, it’s not always in the lap of the doctor. However, many times it can be. In order to prove malpractice, a person must do three things.

  1. Prove the doctor’s behavior was at the level of negligence
  2. Prove the patient involved had issues arise from the proven negligence
  3. Prove the doctor had an established relationship with the patient to show they had the necessary information to make a proper diagnosis

Proving Negligence

In order to prove a doctor was negligent, the information they had at the time is taken and compared to another competent doctor would have diagnosed. In other words, if there was an apparent mistake on behalf of the doctor that resulted, or could have resulted, in the patient suffering harm, this is considered negligence. Examples of a mistake along these lines can include, interpreting a test incorrectly, delaying diagnosis or dragging their feet on an important matter, leaving out important medical information on a chart, etc. There are many ways in which a doctor can be negligent however, it has to be legitimate negligence. For example, sometimes misinterpreting a test can happen if it’s a tricky prognosis. However, if any competent doctor would have caught a diagnosis that was missed on a test, this is where negligence can be proved.

Along with proving negligence, the standard of care must be proven as well. This means that it must be proved that the needed diagnosis is something that would have been given under any standard care of the average doctor. Lastly, they must prove that this lack of a diagnosis or misdiagnosis was the root cause of the harm a patient suffered.

To sum it up, yes, a person can allege malpractice on the grounds of failure to diagnose. However, it must be under certain terms and be proven without a doubt.