$19.7 Million Verdict Laid At Feet Of Doctor Who Dismissed His Patient’s Claims
A female patient who went to her primary doctor for decades before seeing a neurologist was diagnosed with a mass on her spine causing the pain. The primary physician failed to consider her complaints believing that she was just old.
Zebras happen in the medical field and if you only see horses, then you’ll never see a zebra. In this case, the doctor didn’t bother to look at the spine. By the time the problem was caught, she had already developed severe complications such as incontinence. The patient was ultimately left paralyzed and unable to work.
Failure to diagnose
When a doctor tells you that you don’t have a problem or you’re being overly vigilant about every ache and pain, it does become a problem for the patient who tends to believe the doctor when they tell them they’re fine. It prevents them from seeking out a second opinion and allows a problem to get worse.
If a doctor says, “let’s see where we’re at in another month” and you sit around in pain, then come back to the doctor and report that you’re still in pain, he should probably have a look at the pain area.
In this case, had the mass been addressed earlier the incontinence, pain when walking, and other outcomes could have been avoided. While the doctor was telling the patient she was fine, the tumor was destroying the bone in her spine. It cannot be replaced, so the failure to look at the spine has resulted in this woman being crippled for the rest of her life.
Winning failure to diagnose lawsuits
Failure to diagnose lawsuits are among the most common medical malpractice lawsuits you can find. In these cases, the plaintiff must establish that the correct diagnosis was never even considered, excluded based on bad reasoning or bad testing, or another doctor in the same position would have likely made the correct diagnosis with the information given.
Now, anyone who has watched the hit TV program House knows that diagnostics can be complicated. House runs through dozens during an hour-long show just to get to the right one. His diagnostic process is based heavily on trial and error, and he often treats conditions he doesn’t know the patient has. If the patient gets better, the diagnosis is correct (probably). If the patient doesn’t get better, then you have to try something else. A highly experimental practice like House’s is generally immune to lawsuits because there is no standard of care when dealing with a patient who no one else has been able to help. A doctor who fails to look at a patient’s pain area is not immune to failure to diagnose lawsuits because it is generally assumed that you would look at the pain area and at least perform an X-ray.
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