Medical practitioners fail to diagnose an illness or medical condition all too often. No matter a patient’s age or current health condition an illness left undetected can take a financial, emotional and physical toll that could have been prevented.
Cancers and heart attacks are most frequently tried in medical malpractice lawsuits, because of the rapid speed with which a patient’s health can deteriorate. Severe conditions like hypertension and diabetes, however, are two of the most commonly undiagnosed illnesses.
There are many factors that hamper a doctor’s ability to speedily and correctly diagnose a patient’s illness or medical condition, including:
- Common ailments such as headaches can cause confusion
- Patients already have various medical problems
- Physician lacks the time or expertise to reach diagnosis
- Specialists are consulted once symptoms become more extreme
- Symptoms are similar with other, less severe medical conditions or illnesses
- The ailment is rare
Understanding the common reasons that doctors fail to quickly and accurately diagnose a medical condition is the first step you can take to protect yourself from such suffering.
If you are willing to assert to your doctor that your symptoms may be a sign of a medical condition or disease, there are also a handful of steps you can take to have your diagnosis reconsidered:
1. Journal your symptoms in detail
Doctors have only 15 minutes to check up on and diagnose patients. Journal your symptoms each day so that doctors have more information at their disposal. Don’t rely on your memory to communicate the minor details that you can forget to mention during your appointment.
2. Come prepared with questions
Ask doctors questions that will probe their willingness to consider whether you could have a more serious medical condition. Ask questions like “Could more than one disease cause the symptoms I’m experiencing?”
3. Do your research
Consult online medical health resources like MayoClinic to research your symptoms, and flag medical illnesses or conditions with symptoms that align with your own. Mention your concerns to your doctor.
4. Trust your gut
If your doctor is unwilling to consider that you may be suffering from an illness that has not yet been discovered, be assertive in your request that they consider an alternative diagnosis or seek out a second opinion.
Patients whose doctors fail to diagnose their condition due to negligence may be entitled to legal compensation if this failure put the patient in harm’s way by:
- Exposing the patient to an excessively aggressive treatment that wouldn’t have been required if the correct medical condition or disease was diagnosed earlier
- Exposing the patient to harmful treatments that were unnecessary given the true medical ailment
- Performing unnecessary surgical procedures that could potentially result in disfiguration, scarring or further complications
- Increasing the patient’s likelihood of experiencing complications
- Increasing the likelihood of a patient’s death
Patrick J. Filan has a 30-year track record of success in civil and criminal litigation that has included million and multimillion dollar recoveries for individuals injured or killed as a result of medical malpractice, car accidents, falls, dangerous drugs, defective products, and in commercial disputes.