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Failure to diagnose can lead to medical malpractice suits

New York is filled with some of the world's finest physicians and surgeons that successfully treat patients every day. However, even the top doctors in the world can make mistakes. Some of the most common mistakes involve failed or erroneous treatments or diagnoses. Such errors can cause further injury or disease progression, which could ultimately lead to a premature death.

A failure to diagnose typically means that a doctor missed some key signs that, if seen, would have resulted in the timely diagnosis of the patient. Many diseases are more manageable if caught early. If a delay or failure to diagnose the illness results in injury to the patient that could have been prevented if diagnosis was timely, medical professionals could be held responsible.

Doctors are trained to establish a differential diagnosis, meaning that they must list possible causes of patient's symptoms from most likely to least likely. If a doctor misdiagnoses a patient, the question becomes what causes a reasonable sensible doctor would have considered in the same circumstances. If a doctor's list does not include the patient's actual diagnosis, the doctor could be found liable.

Sometimes a patient is given the incorrect treatment or is treated for a disease they don't have. Incorrect treatment can cause additional injury to the patient. Doctors can also be negligent in that they dismiss or ignore certain symptoms and determine that they do not require treatment, when in fact they do. This dismissal of symptoms could cause a patient further harm. Erroneous treatment can be the result of misdiagnosis. It can also be the result of a doctor trying a new or unverified treatment when a more traditional treatment would have been sufficient. In any case, when a doctor makes a mistake that causes harm to a patient, there may be reason to file a lawsuit against them.

Source: FindLaw, "Failed/Erroneous Diagnosis and Treatment," accessed on Jan. 12, 2016

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Michael J. Gaffney, Attorney at Law
1164 Victory Blvd.
Staten Island, NY 10301

Phone: 347-286-1937
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