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When Is Delayed Diagnosis Considered Medical Malpractice?Doctors are required to complete rigorous degree programs and training before becoming licensed physicians. They learn about the signs and symptoms of countless medical conditions so they can diagnose these conditions and provide the necessary treatment. However, doctors are not always able to pinpoint the exact cause of a person’s health concerns. It may take dozens of diagnostic tests and procedures before the person has an accurate diagnosis. In some cases, doctors and specialists are not able to determine the cause of a patient’s symptoms. While not every diagnostic mistake is the result of negligence, there are some situations in which a doctor’s failure to make a timely and accurate diagnosis is considered medical malpractice.  

Doctors Have a Duty to Provide Reasonably Skilled Medical Care

Doctors and other medical professionals have a legal obligation to provide reasonably proficient medical treatment. They are not expected to be perfect, but they are expected to be competent. The question of whether or not a diagnostic mistake is flagrant enough to be considered malpractice is often very difficult to answer. Medical malpractice attorneys have a variety of tools and resources at their disposal that are used to investigate doctors’ actions and inaction and determine if malpractice occurred. To win a medical malpractice lawsuit, a medical malpractice attorney must prove that:

  • A doctor-patient relationship was established.
  • The doctor provided treatment that did not meet the medical standard of care
  • The doctor’s failure to provide quality care caused the patient harm
  • The patient suffered damages as a result of this harm

The standard of medical care is a hypothetical measuring stick used to determine if a doctor’s actions deviated from what a typical doctor of similar status would have done under similar circumstances. Expert testimony from respected medical professionals is often used during a medical malpractice lawsuit to shed light on the reasonableness of a doctor’s actions.

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Three Common Medical Errors Every Patient Should be Aware OfWhile medical malpractice is nowhere near a new issue in the healthcare industry, many media reports and study findings within the last few years have surfaced among the general public, bringing attention to seemingly more medical errors in the community than ever before. In recent years, experts from John Hopkins University shared findings from data that spanned over an eight-year period, revealing that more than 250,000 deaths per year have been attributed to medical error in the U.S. Researchers emphasized that a majority of these errors point to systematic errors, such as poorly coordinated care, problems within insurance networks, and the lack of or underuse of proper protocols. Whatever the source responsible for any given medical error, however, thousands of patients have been and continue to be seriously affected by negligence in the medical community.

The Most Common Causes of Medical Malpractice

The medical community is vast, with a variety of different kinds of medical malpractice cases, but these top three forms of medical error are some of the most notorious in the news today: 

  1. Medication errors: An astounding number of reports – more than 100,000 – make their way to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) each year, suspecting pharmacy medication errors. Whether the pharmacy applies an incorrect label on your prescription bottle, fills the wrong medication, or dispenses the wrong dosage on behalf of the doctor’s instructions, medication errors frequently occur, causing all kinds of problems for unsuspecting patients. Many patients are unaware of the error and go on to take the incorrect dose or medication until long after the problem is discovered, or they experience serious side effects that alert them to the fact that something is wrong. One of the best ways to protect yourself from this risk is to research the medication you are prescribed thoroughly and to do before you even pick up your prescription at the pharmacy. Be proactive, discuss the details of your medicine with your doctor, as well as the pharmacist, and do not be afraid to ask questions.
  2. Misdiagnosis: Another error that occurs all too often is the misdiagnosis of a condition. At times, misdiagnosis may not necessarily be a matter of receiving an incorrect diagnosis directly from a doctor, but instead being attributed with an incorrect condition due to the wrong diagnosis code attributed to your record. Faulty communication, both written and verbal, can create serious discrepancies in the documentation of your health care. These kinds of errors can also trickle down into your insurance records, further complicating matters. Protect yourself from misdiagnosis by researching your symptoms, talking about them in-depth with your doctor, taking notes and asking questions, and most of all, not hesitating to seek out another opinion if something does not feel right.
  3. Missed diagnosis: A missed diagnosis all together can be just as dangerous as an incorrect diagnosis given. Whether your doctor diagnosed you with a condition too late or not at all, if you discover what was wrong later on, perhaps under the care of another provider, you may be the victim of faulty medical practice. Being an advocate for your own health is one of your best defenses against these kinds of errors. 

Contact an Orland Park Medical Malpractice Attorney

If you find you have become another medical malpractice statistic and are experiencing symptoms of injury, it is critical to speak with a skilled, knowledgeable DuPage County personal injury lawyer, who can evaluate your case, protect your rights, and advocate for your health and wellbeing. Schedule a free consultation today by calling Schwartz Injury Law at 708-226-9000. 

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