Failure to Diagnose

Healthcare providers are guilty of negligence when they fall short of providing the standard of care that their peers would have provided in a similar situation

Duty of Care

It’s a fairly simple concept: When a healthcare provider examines a new patient or offers a diagnosis, the doctor-patient relationship is formed. There is neither a written contract nor promise of payment. Physicians are obligated to provide their patients with adequate care, as well as analyzing and accurately diagnosing possible health issues.

Defining Negligent Diagnosis

Healthcare providers are guilty of negligence when they fall short of providing the standard of care that their peers would have provided in a similar situation. When it comes to medical malpractice lawsuits, it is the patient who must prove that the quality of care he or she received was substandard compared to the quality of care that other physicians would have provided.

Proving there was malpractice or negligence typically involves expert testimony. Once the patient retains a medical malpractice attorney, he or she in turn, hires a physician who specializes in the patient's type of malady. This doctor imparts his or her viewpoint as to what a qualified doctor would have done in the same situation.

Once the medical standard of care has been determined, the patient must prove that the care they received fell below that standard.


Was the Misdiagnosis Harmful?

Winning a medical malpractice lawsuit depends on the patient’s testimony that the doctor’s negligence directly caused them:

  • Pain and suffering
  • Medical / Hospital bills
  • Lost wages
  • Diminished ability to enjoy life as before

The decisive element is whether damage was directly caused by the doctor’s failure to properly diagnose. It is not enough to simply demonstrate that damage occurred after a physician was careless.

Case in point: let’s say a patient goes to a doctor with the complaint of horrific headaches. The doctor makes a diagnosis of migraines when in actuality, the patient has an inoperable brain tumor and dies a few months later. Let’s assume even further that the doctor had arrived at the proper diagnosis, but the patient died around the same time anyway because the tumor was inoperable and untreatable. Hence, the doctor would not be found negligent since the patient’s death was not directly caused by the doctor’s error. The patient would’ve died anyway.  

By contrast, let us assume that if the doctor made the same erroneous diagnosis but the patient would have lived another year with proper treatment. Then, the doctor could be found guilty of malpractice because the patient’s early death was directly caused by the doctor’s carelessness.

If you have been harmed by a doctor’s failure to diagnose, The Law Offices of Robert A, Rivers can help!

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