Diagnostic technology has come a long way in recent decades. There are tests that can quickly determine whether a specific pathogen is present in someone’s body. Imaging tests have also changed the way that doctors diagnosed conditions, as it has never been easier to look inside the human body without operating on it.
It can take a bit of work to get approval for certain testing, which made deter a doctor from ordering tests that would benefit a patient. The average physician is also under significant pressure to see a certain number of patients a day, which prevents them from giving each patient the careful consideration necessary to reach an appropriate diagnosis.
How likely are you to experience a diagnostic error when you need a doctor’s help determining the cause of your symptoms?
Diagnostic mistakes are a common form of medical malpractice
You can’t go see a specialist or even legally access a basic antibiotic for a case of strep throat without your doctor confirming your diagnosis. You are dependent on your physician’s listening ability and problem-solving skills when you need medical treatment.
Despite the advances in imaging technology and other medical testing, experts estimate that 12 million people deal with diagnostic mistakes in the United States every year. Of those 12 million people, between 0.3% and 0.6% might actually die as a result. Between 40,000 and 80,000 deaths every year are the result of preventable diagnostic errors by medical professionals.
What protects those coping with a diagnostic mistake?
There are legal protections in place for patients in the United States. Those negatively affected by a doctor’s failure or mistake can potentially file a malpractice insurance claim to seek reimbursement for their excess medical costs or lost wages that resulted from the mistake.
Occasionally, either because of the policy available or the circumstances, medical malpractice claims will require a civil lawsuit rather than negotiations with an insurance provider. In either scenario, the patient making the claim will need to show that they suffered provable negative consequences because the doctor didn’t diagnose them or diagnosed them with the wrong condition.
If another physician would have done something differently, then you may have a viable medical malpractice claim based on the diagnostic error you endured at your doctor’s office or the emergency room. Knowing your rights after you experienced medical malpractice when you needed competent care can compensate you and hold the health care providers accountable for their failures.