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When is a missed diagnosis really medical malpractice?

On Behalf of Christian Ayers
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To some extent, the practice of medicine remains an art as opposed to an exact science. This is because even the best doctors in the Charlotte area, when they diagnose a patient’s conditions, are in reality making an educated guess based on the information they have.

There is room for other opinions, and there is even some expectation that a doctor will from time to time be misled, at least initially.

On the other hand, a misdiagnosis can cause enormous problems for a patient. In the best cases, it can mean a critical delay in treating the patient’s true condition, while in the worst cases, the misdiagnosis itself could make the patient’s overall physical health worse.

No patient in North Carolina should therefore automatically assume that their misdiagnosis is just a mistake and, thus, part of life. Doctors should not always get a free pass, as sometimes their misdiagnosis is an act of medical malpractice for which they can be held accountable via a personal injury lawsuit.

Whether a misdiagnosis is legally actionable depends heavily on how the doctor came about reaching it. Generally speaking, a doctor is supposed to list all possible conditions that she believes could be causing the patient’s symptoms early on in the process.

The doctor lists these conditions in the order of likelihood that each is the cause of the patient’s ailment. She then goes down the list ruling out each condition until she comes to a diagnosis.

If a doctor does not get the order of likelihood quite right, she might escape liability for a delayed or missed diagnosis. However, not including the correct diagnosis on the list at all, or failing to rule it out effectively, can lead to a valid allegation of medical malpractice.