An average of 110,000 medical malpractice cases are filed every year in the U.S., and the most common of these cases involve diagnostic errors – including misdiagnosis, failure to diagnose and delayed diagnosis.
Because timely identification and treatment play a key role in the prognosis for a wide range of medical issues, negligence involving medical tests can have devastating results. If your health has been compromised or your loved one died because of a doctor’s failure to order appropriate tests and properly communicate and act on the results, Law Office of Cohen & Jaffe, LLP can help.
It costs you nothing to have your case reviewed by our medical experts. There are no attorney fees unless we recover compensation. Contact us today for a free consultation.
Failure to Order Medical Tests
A health problem cannot be detected if the proper tests are never performed. This includes both routine screenings, such as pap smears and mammograms for women and prostate exams for men, and more specific tests ordered to assess possible causes of a particular symptom.
The failure to order potentially life-saving diagnostic tests is often the result of a physician assuming one diagnosis without adequately ruling out other possibilities, or disregarding a symptom reported by the patient.
An example of a negligent failure to order tests may be a doctor who fails to order and MRI or CT scan for a patient who complained of persistent headaches, only to later discover a brain tumor that would have been treatable with earlier detection.
A common misdiagnosis that could have been avoided with further testing is that of meningitis in children. Meningitis can have devastating effects on long-term health when left untreated, and can lead to permanent brain damage or prove to be fatal.
Heart attacks in women are also frequently misdiagnosed as anxiety or other less serious ailments, as women tend to present with subtler symptoms, rather than the crushing chest pain often experienced by men.
In cases such as these, the misdiagnosis and subsequent harm are generally preventable by performing readily available diagnostic tests.
Failure to Communicate Medical Test Results
Even when appropriate tests are performed, they do little good if the results are not communicated in a timely and accurate manner to the medical professionals attending to the patient.
In these situations, the fault may lie with different entities. For example, a lab may fail to deliver a patient’s results or send the wrong patient’s results. The physicians and specialists involved in the patient’s care may communicate inadequately with the patient and with each other. A common problem arises when a specialist orders tests but neglects to inform the referring physician of the results.
What Constitutes Medical Malpractice?
Not every case of poor medical practice is grounds for a malpractice lawsuit. The main elements that must be satisfied to have a viable case are that injury must be caused, the injury must be the direct result of a professional’s negligent actions and it must be shown that a competent person in that profession could have been reasonably expected to act differently.
The injury must be the direct result of the negligent action. To use the previously mentioned example of the patient with persistent headaches, there would only be a strong case for malpractice if it could be demonstrated that the brain tumor had increased in severity, and that the prognosis therefore would have been better had it been detected earlier. If the tumor would have been inoperable anyway, regardless of when it was discovered, it would be more difficult to show that the injury was the actual result of negligence.
Medical malpractice cases can be difficult. They usually involve complex and highly technical medical matters. They require thorough analysis of volumes of patient records by medical experts. There is a high standard of proof to show that the care provider was negligent. The level of harm to the patient and the likelihood of a successful claim must be high enough to justify the expense of preparing and filing a lawsuit.
The legal team at the Law Office of Cohen & Jaffe, LLP works with distinguished medical experts to review cases, select the viable ones and meticulously prepare lawsuits. When we move forward on a case, we do so with full confidence that the claim is just, our client is deserving of compensation and we can demonstrate these facts.
It costs you nothing to have your potential lawsuit evaluated. We invite you to tell us exactly what happened to you so that we can determine if your medical malpractice case has merit.
For a free claim evaluation and consultation, call us now or fill out our online contact form. We will respond promptly. We can arrange evening and weekend appointments, and we can come to you.
- The Internet Journal of Family Practice: The Five Most Common Misdiagnoses: A Meta-Analysis of Autopsy and Malpractice Data
- Mayo Clinic: Heart Disease in Women: Understand Symptoms and Risk Factors
- The Wall Street Journal: Hospitals Overhaul ERs to Reduce Mistakes
For a free legal consultation with a failure to order tests or communicate results lawyer serving Long Island, call 516-358-6900