Misdiagnosis can cause severe harm to patients

September 7, 2021 | Crandall & Pera Law
Misdiagnosis can cause severe harm to patients

Most people in Ohio tend to trust their doctors when they receive a medical diagnosis. However, it’s important to know that medical experts, even specialists in specific conditions, can make mistakes. When a patient’s medical condition is misdiagnosed, the consequences can be severe.

Delayed treatment

Some medical conditions can become much worse when a correct diagnosis is delayed. If a disease is allowed to progress further because of a misdiagnosis, the doctor may be liable for medical malpractice. When a doctor first meets a patient, it’s expected that he or she will have several ideas of what is causing the patient’s symptoms. Using “differential diagnosis,” the doctor is supposed to go through the list of likely causes and eliminate them. If the doctor does not eliminate a possible cause, this could result in a misdiagnosis.

Erroneous treatment

Some treatments that are life-saving for one patient could be detrimental or even fatal to another patient. When a patient is misdiagnosed with a condition that they don’t have, they may suffer the consequences of erroneous treatment. Erroneous treatment can sometimes be more harmful to a patient than no treatment at all. For example, if a patient receives chemotherapy or undergoes surgery that they did not need, they could suffer unnecessary side effects and complications. Meanwhile, the patient’s underlying condition may be aggravated by the erroneous treatment and from the delay in receiving the correct treatment.

Filing a medical malpractice complaint for misdiagnosis

If a misdiagnosis or delayed diagnosis was caused by a doctor’s negligence or incompetence, the doctor can be sued for medical malpractice. To prove that a doctor was negligent, the patient must demonstrate that a doctor in the same field would have acted differently under the same circumstances. This is usually proven through testimony from expert witnesses.