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What to do if a physician fails to diagnose a severe condition

Doctors have a moral and legal responsibility to provide a high standard of care to patients. Yet, CNBC reported that medical mistakes are the third-leading cause of death in the U.S.

How can a person respond in light of a doctor’s misdiagnosis or failure to diagnose a serious illness?

Causes for misdiagnosis

Recent statistics give rise to concern.

  • Medical facilities are grossly understaffed. A 2022 report by the Department of Health and Human Services stated that about 1 in 5 hospitals nationwide experiences critical staff shortages. Pennsylvania recorded an understaffing rate of 17.18%.
  • Stress and a lack of job fulfillment can lead to blunders among nurses. In 2019, Professional Research Consultants found that 15.6% of nurses felt burned out, and 41% of nurses called themselves “unengaged.”
  • The future does not hold promise, as a 2020 report from the Association of American Medical Colleges foretells a shortage of at least 54,100 physicians by 2033. The number could rise to as high as 139,000.

Recourse in light of a misdiagnosis

A person who fears receiving a misdiagnosis should not delay pursuing a second opinion about their condition. Establish the facts and provide documentation to demonstrate the medical practitioner breached the duty to act as a reasonably competent physician.

A plaintiff in a medical malpractice case must also prove the harm caused and the damages suffered. Since collecting such evidence can be challenging and time-consuming, many litigants acquire legal counsel to navigate the process.

Medical errors can cause damaging and long-lasting consequences. Patients do well to prepare themselves for defense against the painful actions of an errant physician.