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What happens if a medical condition isn't properly diagnosed?

When you visit a doctor, you would think that you are going to get a diagnosis that will enable you to get the treatments you need to get back on track. There is sometimes a chance that this won't happen because of a failure to diagnose. There are two types of errors that can occur with a diagnosis. One of these is a complete failure to diagnose a condition and the other is making an incorrect diagnosis.

What is the difference between a failure to diagnose and incorrect diagnosis?

A failure to diagnose means that you don't get any diagnosis at all for what is wrong with you. An incorrect diagnosis means that you do get a diagnosis but it isn't a correct diagnosis. For example, you might be diagnosed with a urinary tract infection instead of pneumonia.

Why are these so serious?

In both cases, you wouldn't get the medications or treatments that you need to help you overcome the actual condition that you have. In some cases, such as a heart attack, stroke or cancer, not getting the medications needed to treat the condition could be fatal. In many cases, failure to diagnose and incorrect diagnosis can lead to negative health effects. It is even possible that if you get treatment for the wrong condition that the incorrect treatment could cause more harm.

Any patient who isn't properly diagnosed based on the available information might opt to seek compensation for the damages he or she suffers. Developing a case would likely involve looking into what information was available and finding out what diagnosis another doctor with that information would make based on that information.

Source: FindLaw, "Failed/Erroneous Diagnosis and Treatment," accessed Jan. 20, 2017

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