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.
A recent medical malpractice lawsuit ended which illustrates this sort of issue. According to the Coloradoan, a woman went into a local emergency room after experiencing severe headaches. She also had extremely high blood pressure. However, according to the lawsuit, the emergency room doctor did not act reasonably when diagnosing the woman. Instead of putting the information in front of him together which indicated that she might have a more serious issue, the doctor instead diagnosed her with a migraine and sent her home.
The consequences of being sent home without more appropriate treatment would had severe consequence for the mother of two.
By the next morning she had suffered a stroke. She woke up and had to be rushed to the hospital again after being unable to walk or talk. Her family was not sure if she would survive the ordeal at first. She did, but not without permanent injury. She is virtually paralyzed on the entire right side of her body. The woman can no longer perform activities that she once loved, like cycling and skiing. She even has to learn how to write with her left hand, because she unable to use her right.
Each Chicago medical malpractice lawyer appreciates that cases like this are often caused by medical malpractice. The jury in this case agreed that the emergency room physician did not act reasonably. They found that his failure to properly diagnose the woman was caused by unreasonable conduct and led to her permanent injuries. They ultimately awarded the family $3.9 million for the misconduct.
See Our Related Blog Posts: