Medical malpractice: Misdiagnosis vs. missed diagnosis

When someone in Arizona consults with a doctor about an unfamiliar or unidentified medical condition, he or she will naturally expect to be diagnosed and informed of the treatment options. However, if the treatment does not improve the condition, it becomes unclear whether the doctor failed to diagnose the problem, or missed the cause of the illness altogether. This may be important to know if the patient decides to file a medical malpractice lawsuit.

A misdiagnosis happens when one illness is diagnosed as another. It is not uncommon for different diseases to have similar symptoms, and if the necessary tests are not done, the incorrect illness could be diagnosed. An example is Lyme disease and flu, which have similar symptoms. If Lyme disease is incorrectly diagnosed and treated as flu, the actual disease will remain untreated and could become worse. A more severe, and even life-threatening error can occur when a woman's pain is diagnosed and treated as a gastrointestinal problem when she actually has ovarian cancer.

On the other hand, missed diagnosis describes a situation when the doctor fails to diagnose any disease. An instance to demonstrate this is a doctor who tells a patient the small breast lump she discovered is nothing to worry about, and she later learns that she has breast cancer. In this case she will not receive the necessary treatment that might have led to remission.

Medical malpractice is a complicated field of the law, and claims should not be tackled without the support and guidance of an Arizona attorney. A lawyer who is experienced in dealing with misdiagnosis and missed diagnosis can determine the viability of a claim and suggest the most appropriate way to proceed. If such a civil lawsuit is successfully navigated, the plaintiff could receive compensation for financial and emotional damages sustained.

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