Diagnostic errors are some of the costliest that a medical provider can make. Proper treatment to help a patient will not even begin until doctors correctly identify the specific ailment that is harming the patient. However, our Illinois medical malpractice lawyers know that failures to properly identify the problem occur frequently, with life and death consequences for those involved.
There are often misunderstandings about what constitutes malpractice in these sorts of situations. As with all malpractice, the law does not hinge on specific outcomes. In other words, doctors are not required by the law to do anything above and beyond basic reasonable care to figure out what the cause of an ailment is. If a doctor fails to diagnose a patient correctly, it does not automatically mean that they committed malpractice. Instead, the legal decision is based on more subtle factors, a comparison of the actions by the doctor with the actions of a “reasonable” doctor in the same situation.
For example, if a patient enters an emergency room with various symptoms, there are basic protocols that reasonable medical practitioners would follow to figure out the patient’s medical issue. That may involve performing tests and comparing symptoms with results to reach reasonable conclusions about what might be harming the patient. Not all diagnostic cases are easy or lead to clear answers. Doctors are not required to do anything more than a reasonable doctor would do. Yet, they can be held responsible when they do not catch issues that a reasonable doctor would catch.