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Diagnostic Errors from Medical Malpractice: What to Know

Diagnostic Errors from Medical Malpractice: What to Know

Diagnostic errors are among the most common types of healthcare mistakes.

Sometimes, even highly trained doctors and other medical professionals make mistakes. Among the most common types of healthcare mistakes are diagnostic errors. If you or a loved one believe that you have been harmed due to diagnostic errors by a healthcare provider in Maryland or Washington, D.C., call our experienced medical malpractice attorneys for help.

What is a Diagnostic Error?

Broadly speaking, a diagnostic error is “any mistake or failure in the diagnostic process leading to a misdiagnosis, a missed diagnosis, or a delayed diagnosis.” 

  • Misdiagnosis: erroneous diagnosis of a disease. Typically this term is used when a diagnosis is made (so not a failure to diagnose or delayed diagnosis) but the diagnosis is just wrong. Example: patient presents with chest pain and indigestion. The doctor thinks the pain is due to gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), often called acid reflux. The patient is sent home with medication to prevent GERD, and later dies of a heart attack. There, the doctor misdiagnosed the patient’s heart attack.
  • Delayed Diagnosis: the right diagnosis is made, but not within a reasonable time. This is common with cancers such as breast cancer, kidney cancer, and lung cancer. Example: unfortunately, the lawyers of Cardaro & Peek have seen delayed diagnoses harm many patients. In a case that case tried by Cardaro & Peek, a Catonsville woman’s doctor missed an early indication of her breast cancer, causing it to reach an incurable stage. Because the Defendant doctor failed to order the proper tests, the cancer was only detected when the patient returned for another routine exam the following fall. At that point, the cancer progressed from a treatable “2B” stage to a likely-to-recur “3B.” A Baltimore jury awarded $7 million (story found here) due to the injuries and damages caused by the doctor’s negligence.  
  • Missed Diagnosis: the patient gets no diagnosis or treatment, even though they presented with symptoms/signs of a serious condition. This often happens in hectic emergency rooms or urgent care centers, where a busy doctor jumps to an incorrect conclusion. Example: a patient complaining of chronic pain is thought to be “drug seeking” and sent home. The patient later suffers complications related to the same pain they complained about. 

How Do I Know If a Diagnostic Error Happened?

As noted above, there are some common themes among diagnostic errors. Urgent care clinics and emergency rooms are very busy, which creates an environment where diagnostic errors are more likely to occur. Additionally, certain symptoms (like chest pain, headache, etc.) are common and can occur with multiple diseases. If the health care provider picks the most common cause of the symptoms (e.g., sudden severe headache=migraine) without ruling out the most severe cause (e.g., sudden severe headache=brain bleed), it can lead to a diagnostic error.

Ultimately, a diagnostic error can occur at any stage in the diagnostic process, and there is a spectrum of patient consequences related to these errors ranging from no harm to severe harm and even death. Therefore, it may be difficult for you to determine if there was a diagnostic error or just an unfortunate consequence. That is where an experienced medical malpractice law firm can help you investigate and evaluate your claim. 

The lawyers at Cardaro & Peek have been litigating medical malpractice cases in Maryland and Washington, D.C. for over thirty years, both as Defense and Plaintiff attorneys, and have the knowledge and experience to know which details are important and which claims to file to get the result you deserve. So if you believe that you are a loved one suffered injury due to a diagnostic error, contact the Law Offices of Cardaro & Peek today for a FREE consultation.

Contact The Law Offices of Cardaro & Peek, LLC Today

The lawyers at Cardaro & Peek, LLC have the experience and resources necessary to investigate and litigate all types of medical claims throughout Maryland and Washington, D.C. Cardaro & Peek, LLC has medical personnel on staff and has access to nationally recognized, board-certified physicians and other experts, to assist in the investigation, analysis, and prosecution of all types of medical malpractice claims. If you or a loved one have experienced malpractice, give us a call at 410-752-6166. Please visit our website and follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn for more information.

This entry was posted on Tuesday, October 18th, 2022 at . Both comments and pings are currently closed.