Medical negligence is a specific action taken by a medical professional. It is an action that is outside of the accepted standard of care by those in similar medical care positions. Malpractice is not limited to physicians. It can happen from the actions of other medical providers, including nurses, physician’s assistants, anesthesiologists, medical specialists, and many more.
Anyone in the medical field who provides direct care to a patient can be held responsible for medical negligence. However, an unfortunate outcome, dissatisfaction, or an inadequate response to treatment is not necessarily medical negligence or malpractice. Medical treatments and procedures usually come with some type of risk. The actions of the medical provider must cause harm to the patient for medical malpractice to be considered.
Misdiagnosis, Delayed Diagnosis, and Failure to Diagnose
When you visit your medical provider to obtain a diagnosis for your illness, you trust that your doctor will take the time to assess your symptoms to determine your medical issue accurately. At times, doctors do not provide the standard of care expected of those within his or her medical field practicing in the same geographic area, which can lead to a misdiagnosis or delayed diagnosis. Failure to diagnose an illness could also be a medical error that leads to severe complications and even death.
A doctor is expected to follow a specific process in identifying a medical condition or disease. The medical provider reviews a patient’s symptoms and test results to come up with a diagnosis. Physicians make their determination based on symptoms, signs, and test results, including those from blood work, x-rays, MRI scans, and more. The patient’s medical history will also be reviewed to look for signs contributing to a medical condition. A medical provider forms a hypothesis of likely medical issues and will often investigate further through medical testing to confirm his or her assumption.
Failure to diagnose, delayed diagnosis, and misdiagnosis are considered medical errors. These are medical errors that lead to unnecessary injuries and deaths. There are many reasons why physicians make medical errors, including long working hours and sleep deprivation.
Researchers following medical interns who were awake for more than 24 hours found the committed doubled or tripled the number of medical errors, including mistakes that led to severe injury or death.
A misdiagnosis, delayed diagnosis, or failure to diagnose that causes a patient harm falls under the legal category known as medical malpractice. Unfortunately, mistakes do happen. When an error or negligence occurs, the patient and his or her family pay the price. The price of being victimized by medical malpractice can be substantial. Money may be needed for medical care and treatment, to compensate for missed work, or to pay for medical equipment and rehabilitative costs. An injured patient’s mental and emotional health may suffer, as well.
Additionally, family members may have to assume the personal and financial burden of caring for a patient injured by medical negligence or malpractice. Often, they are forced to rearrange their lives. The price can be enormous, but filing a medical malpractice lawsuit with the help of an experienced attorney may be a way to recover some or all of what’s been lost.