New York Diagnosis Malpractice Attorneys
Advocating for Victims of Delayed & Missed Diagnoses
Saving a life often depends on the early and correct detection of serious health conditions, such as breast cancer, cervical/endometrial cancer, colon cancer, lung cancer, skin cancer, prostate cancer, appendicitis, heart attack, stroke, and aneurysm. Prompt, proper testing for these conditions in the doctor’s office or hospital emergency room can mean the difference between life and death for the affected patient.
Unfortunately, many patients receive delayed diagnoses or, worse, are never properly diagnosed. In some cases, this could be the result of medical negligence. If you or a loved one suffered harm as a result of a diagnostic error, contact our New York misdiagnosis lawyers at Simonson Goodman Platzer PC. We have decades of legal experience and a proven record of success, having secured more than $200 million for our clients. We are ready to fight for you and your recovery.
What is Misdiagnosis?
Medical misdiagnosis, also known as a diagnostic error or misdiagnosis, occurs when a healthcare provider incorrectly identifies a patient's medical condition. Misdiagnosis can occur in a variety of medical scenarios due to the complexity of diagnosing diseases and conditions.
Some common scenarios of misdiagnosis include:
- Symptoms Mimicking Other Conditions: Many medical conditions share symptoms with other diseases, making it challenging to differentiate between them. For example, certain types of cancer can initially present with symptoms like fatigue, weight loss, and pain, which can be attributed to various other illnesses.
- Rare or Uncommon Diseases: Healthcare providers may not consider rare or uncommon diseases, leading to a misdiagnosis. These conditions are often overlooked because they are not as frequently encountered.
- Vague or Nonspecific Symptoms: When a patient experiences vague or nonspecific symptoms, such as fatigue, nausea, or mild pain, healthcare providers may initially misdiagnose the problem or not take it seriously. These symptoms can be associated with numerous conditions, making accurate diagnosis challenging.
- Patient-Provider Communication: Ineffective communication between patients and healthcare providers can lead to misdiagnoses. If patients are unable to express their symptoms clearly or provide a comprehensive medical history, healthcare providers may not have enough information to make an accurate diagnosis.
- Complex Medical Histories: Patients with complex medical histories, multiple conditions, or taking numerous medications can be at higher risk of misdiagnosis. The interactions between different conditions and medications can complicate the diagnostic process.
- Lack of Specialized Knowledge: In cases where a condition is rare or highly specialized, general practitioners may lack the knowledge and experience to accurately diagnose the problem. Referral to a specialist may be necessary.
- Diagnostic Testing Errors: Errors in diagnostic testing, such as misinterpreting imaging studies (X-rays, MRIs, CT scans) or misreading laboratory results, can lead to misdiagnosis.
- Cognitive Biases: Healthcare providers can be influenced by cognitive biases, such as anchoring (over-relying on the initial diagnosis), confirmation bias (seeking evidence that confirms preconceived ideas), or availability bias (judging based on readily available information), which can lead to misdiagnosis.
- Overreliance on Technology: While advanced medical technology can be incredibly helpful, it can sometimes lead to misdiagnosis if healthcare providers rely too heavily on test results without considering the patient's clinical presentation and medical history.
- Missed or Delayed Diagnoses: Some conditions evolve slowly or have subtle symptoms at the onset, which can lead to missed or delayed diagnoses. For instance, chronic diseases like diabetes or certain cancers may not manifest distinct symptoms until they have progressed significantly.
- Psychological Factors: In cases of mental health conditions, patients may present with symptoms that are mistakenly attributed to physical ailments. Conversely, physical symptoms may be dismissed as psychological problems.
- Medication Side Effects: Symptoms resulting from side effects of medications can sometimes be mistaken for the symptoms of an underlying medical condition.
Misdiagnosis can occur due to various factors and causes, many of which are interconnected. Some of the common causes of misdiagnosis include:
- Incomplete Patient Information: When healthcare providers lack comprehensive information about a patient's medical history, lifestyle, and symptoms, it can hinder their ability to make an accurate diagnosis. Inadequate patient information can result from poor communication or rushed appointments.
- Diagnostic Complexity: Diagnosing some medical conditions is inherently challenging due to their complex or ambiguous nature. Some diseases share symptoms with others, making it difficult to differentiate between them.
- Cognitive Biases: Cognitive biases, such as confirmation bias (seeking evidence that confirms preconceived ideas), anchoring (over-relying on initial information), and availability bias (making judgments based on readily available information), can influence healthcare providers' decision-making and lead to diagnostic errors.
- Lack of Time: In a fast-paced healthcare environment, time constraints can limit thorough evaluation and lead to rushed or incomplete diagnoses. Short appointments or busy schedules can hinder healthcare providers from giving each patient the attention they need.
- Inexperienced or Overworked Healthcare Providers: Inexperienced providers or those who are overworked and fatigued are more prone to making errors. Lack of experience or chronic exhaustion can lead to misdiagnosis, especially when dealing with complex cases.
- Limited Access to Specialists: General practitioners may not always have the specialized knowledge required to diagnose certain conditions accurately. Limited access to specialist consultations can hinder the diagnostic process.
- Communication Issues: Miscommunication between healthcare providers or between the healthcare team and the patient can result in misdiagnosis. Patients may have difficulty expressing their symptoms or understanding the provider's instructions.
- Patient Factors: Patients may downplay or omit crucial information, not follow treatment plans, or seek multiple opinions from different providers, which can make it challenging for healthcare providers to form an accurate diagnosis.
- Laboratory and Test Errors: Errors in diagnostic testing, such as incorrect sample collection, misinterpretation of test results, or equipment malfunctions, can lead to misdiagnosis.
- Rare and Uncommon Diseases: Healthcare providers may not consider rare or unusual diseases, as they are not encountered frequently. This lack of awareness can result in delayed or missed diagnoses.
- Psychosocial Factors: Some medical conditions may manifest with symptoms influenced by psychological or social factors, making diagnosis more challenging. Healthcare providers may overlook underlying emotional or social causes of physical symptoms.
- Aging and Comorbidity: In elderly patients with multiple chronic conditions (comorbidities), symptoms can be complex and overlapping. Healthcare providers may focus on one condition while missing another.
- Systemic Flaws: Within healthcare systems, issues like overcrowded hospitals, overburdened emergency departments, or inconsistent access to medical records can contribute to diagnostic errors.
- Technological Overreliance: Relying too heavily on diagnostic technology can lead to misdiagnosis if healthcare providers neglect to consider the patient's clinical presentation and history.
- Inadequate Continuing Education: Medical knowledge evolves rapidly, and healthcare providers must keep up to date with new research and diagnostic methods. A lack of continuing education can result in outdated diagnostic practices.
Medical misdiagnoses can have serious consequences, including delayed or incorrect treatment, unnecessary procedures or medications, and emotional distress for patients. They can also lead to physical harm and, in some cases, be life-threatening. To reduce the risk of misdiagnosis, healthcare providers use protocols, consult with specialists, and continually update their medical knowledge. Patients should also communicate their symptoms and concerns openly and seek second opinions when necessary.
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How Diagnostic Errors Happen
Mammograms, ultrasounds, biopsies, blood tests, MRIs and CAT/CT scans, and electrocardiograms are commonly used by medical professionals to detect serious medical conditions. However, many times, doctors fail to order these tests, even when a patient is exhibiting symptoms. In other cases, doctors fail to properly read or analyze test results. This may happen out of sheer negligence or when a doctor is caught up in the confusion of a much over-extended and under-staffed hospital emergency room. In other cases, a patient may present less-common symptoms of an illness or condition, causing the doctor to fail to recognize the signs. Nevertheless, proper diagnostic testing is a key aspect of standard medical care.
Additionally, treating physicians are not the only ones who can cause diagnostic errors through negligence. Sometimes, a doctor may order the proper tests, but the radiologist may misread the films or the pathologist may misread the biopsy.
What Can Cause a Delayed Diagnosis?
A misdiagnosis is when a doctor misunderstands a patient’s symptoms and diagnoses them with the incorrect health condition. A delayed diagnosis is when a doctor reaches the correct diagnosis, but it happens too late and the patient’s health has deteriorated because of that delay. It can also be when the correct diagnosis is never reached or when a doctor refuses to even provide a diagnosis for one reason or another.
Delayed diagnoses can be caused by:
- Incorrect lab tests: Your doctor will never be able to reach a correct diagnosis if they never order the correct lab tests. The longer a doctor prescribes incorrect tests, the longer a patient’s condition will likely worsen.
- Waiting too long to read results: Diagnostic test results are only useful if your doctor reads and acts upon them. In many delayed diagnosis cases, our team has uncovered that our client’s doctor ordered a lab test and received the results within a reasonable amount of time, but then did not use those results to further their diagnosis.
- Refusing to refer to another doctor: Commonly, doctors need the help of other medical experts to reach an accurate diagnosis, which is done through referrals. Some doctors refuse to refer a patient to another physician, though, often out of fear that the other doctor could make things worse. This refusal can be the source of a patient’s suffering, though, if it means no one ever diagnoses the injury or illness.
- Forgetting about the patient: In many parts of the country, the ratio of patients-to-physicians requires a single primary care physician to regularly see dozens or hundreds of patients. With so many case files to manage, doctors can make the mistake of forgetting a patient is waiting for their diagnosis. Although this might be an honest error, it is not an excuse and the doctor can still be held liable through a delayed diagnosis claim.
When time is working against a patient, diagnosis delays can limit treatment options, worsen a prognosis, or even cause death. If you or a loved one have suffered because of an unreasonable gap in your treatment or a late diagnosis, call our New York delayed diagnosis attorneys to see how you can start a claim against your medical provider.
How Our Firm Can Help
The New York misdiagnosis lawyers at Simonson Goodman Platzer PC have been representing victims of late diagnosis and misdiagnosis for decades. Our attorneys have recovered money for their clients in 98% of the cases they have managed, with a total dollar recovery in excess of $200 million. Our entire team has a proven record of success and our attorneys have been frequently recognized for their legal accomplishments and commitment to the highest ethical standards.