Is A Missed Diagnosis Considered Medical Malpractice?


Medical malpractice can occur when the healthcare professional makes an inaccurate or delayed diagnosis, or when they fail to make a diagnosis at all. A diagnosis is the identification of a condition, disease, or injury from its signs, symptoms, or other information. Failure to properly diagnose, missed diagnosis, and failure to timely diagnose are three main incidences of medical malpractice in the context of diagnoses.




Healthcare providers often misdiagnose patients, which could lead to serious injury or death. One important example of this medical error is doctors’ frequent misdiagnoses of heart attacks in women. Because women experiencing heart attacks have symptoms that differ slightly from men’s heart attack symptoms, doctors often fail to recognize that a heart attack is indeed what the woman is suffering from. While men may often experience chest pain or numbness in their left arms when having a heart attack, women may experience nausea, stomach pain, or dizziness. Poorly-informed doctors misdiagnose women with menstrual cramps or indigestion rather than treating them urgently for the heart attacks they’re experiencing. Incorrectly diagnosing patients could be medical malpractice.


Missed Diagnosis


In the above example, the doctor gave the wrong diagnosis. In a case of missed diagnosis, the doctor fails to give any diagnosis at all. Suppose a person presents to the doctor with a bad cough and the doctor concludes that it was just a symptom of the flu that was going around and sends the person home with no diagnosis. The person in fact was coughing because of cancerous tumors in her lung. The doctor in that instance missed the diagnosis of lung cancer and such missed diagnosis can be due to medical malpractice.


Delayed Diagnosis


There are many medical conditions that require prompt intervention by healthcare professionals. For example, a stroke is when blood supply to the brain is interrupted or reduced. This is an urgent medical issue and requires a timely diagnosis. When the healthcare professional recognizes the signs of stroke and acts quickly, they can help restore blood flow to the brain. Failure to do so will lead to oxygen deprivation in the brain, which can lead to brain damage, disability, and even death. If a healthcare professional delays diagnosis of stroke and/or fails to act urgently, thereby delaying or withholding lifesaving treatment and disability-preventing treatment, they could be held liable for medical malpractice.


Misdiagnoses, missed diagnoses, and delayed diagnoses can result in serious injury or death. In these cases, patients or their loved ones should consult with a medical malpractice attorney, like the experienced practitioners at VSCP Law.


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