For many progressive conditions like cancer or even traumatic brain injuries, a timely diagnosis is critical to your prognosis. A doctor or even a team of doctors failing to diagnose a condition can have a dramatic impact on your potential recovery and future quality of life. It also shouldn’t happen. Some of the most intensive coursework doctors undergo in medical school focuses on the diagnosis. It is that skill that leads people to seek medical care in the first place.
Not obtaining any diagnosis or receiving a misdiagnosis is far too common among people with serious medical conditions, from cancer to endometriosis. The Mayo Clinic found in a small scale analysis of 300 patients that roughly 21 percent received a misdiagnosis. If you have undiagnosed symptoms and a worsening condition, you need to consider your options carefully, such as a second opinion.
Long Waits, Canceled Appointments and Failure to Listen Causes Issues
Sometimes, a delayed diagnosis is the result of complex scheduling issues. Some specialists may take weeks or months to fit a new patient into their schedules. That degree of delay can result in a condition progressing unchecked. Similarly, if a patient does schedule an appointment only to have it canceled and rescheduled for later, that can lead to unnecessary delays and potential complications.
However, the biggest potential issue stems from doctors who simply don’t listen to patients or who fail to ask the right questions. Most doctors will assume that the simplest possible diagnosis is the correct one, even if they have to overlook some patient claims or symptoms. Not listening to how a patient described the severity or frequency of one’s symptoms could result in serious mistakes by medical professionals.
Doctors Failing to Diagnose May Be a Form of Medical Malpractice
Every situation is unique, but many times, a failure to diagnose could be the most common form of medical malpractice. A doctor ignoring reported symptoms or failing to review diagnostic tests or imaging reports properly could leave patients in a terrible position. It could result in the need for additional care, such as surgery or chemotherapy, that may not have been necessary with a faster diagnosis.
Patients should always do their best to be their own advocates. If your doctors aren’t listening to you, taking your symptoms seriously, or helping you find a diagnosis and solution, you should consider a second option. Another doctor with a fresher perspective may be able to get to the root of your issues quickly. If the delay means you need additional care or has impacted your prognosis in the opinion of the diagnosing doctor, you may want to look into a medical malpractice claim.
Filing a medical malpractice claim helps you recover costs associated with a medical mistake, but it also ensures the professional involved is held accountable. This protects you, as well as potential future patients with similar issues.