What Is the Difference Between a Missed Diagnosis and a Misdiagnosis?

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The importance of quality medical care starts right away, even before you begin to receive any kind of treatment for an illness, injury, or other health condition. Take, for instance, a diagnosis. Having your doctor properly diagnose you may be something you take for granted or just assume will happen. Your doctor will diagnose and then prescribe a treatment plan accordingly. What, however, happens when you are incorrectly diagnosed? Think of the potential consequences. There could be a significant delay in you receiving the care you actually need for your condition and your condition could worsen as a result. You could receive the wrong kind of treatment and your condition could worsen as a result and you may also develop other conditions as a result. The fact is that errors in diagnosis can have serious consequences for a patient. Diagnosis errors can often form the basis for medical malpractice claims as a result.

What Is the Difference Between a Missed Diagnosis and a Misdiagnosis?

Missed diagnosis and misdiagnosis are medical errors that can lead to medical malpractice claims. While the two are similar in name and both refer to medical errors in the diagnosis phase of a patient’s medical care, there are key differences that make the two things distinct. For starters, a missed diagnosis refers to when a doctor wrongfully clears a patient. The patient is not diagnosed with anything when, in fact, the patient is suffering from a medical condition that the doctor missed. On the other side of things is misdiagnosis. With a misdiagnosis, the doctor does diagnose the patient, but the diagnosis is incorrect.

While a missed diagnosis or misdiagnosis are medical errors, they will not automatically result in medical malpractice liability. In order for this to arise, the patient must prove that there was a doctor-patient relationship, that the doctor was negligent, and that this negligence was the direct cause of harm to the patient. In order to show that the doctor was negligent in providing care to the patient, it must be demonstrated that the care the doctor provided fell below the standard of care required of him or her. You see, doctors are held to a standard of care that shows they provided a level of care quality comparable to other similarly situated doctors, meaning doctors in similar specialties, in a similar geographic area, and under comparable circumstances.

In order to be able to show that a doctor deviated from the requisite standard of care in diagnosing a patient, it is important to understand how doctors go about diagnosing patients. It is done through the differential diagnosis method. A doctor begins by reviewing the medical history of a patient, detailing the symptoms the patient is describing and performing a physical examination. Based on this, the doctor comes up with a list of possible diagnoses which is further narrowed down through a variety of means such as ordering more tests or radiographic studies, among other things. Should a doctor fail to conduct due diligence during the differential diagnosis process or dismiss potential diagnoses that would not necessarily be ruled out by other doctors in a similar specialty and misdiagnosis or fail to diagnose a patient as a result, leading to a patient sustaining harm, then the doctor may be subject to medical malpractice liability.

Personal Injury Attorney

Has a diagnosis error caused you harm? Talk to the team at Hunt Law about your legal options for recovering compensation through a medical malpractice claim. Contact us today.