The television show House, M.D. featured a medically brilliant but socially clueless physician who specialized in diagnosing cases that no one else could figure out. In a typical episode, the diagnostic team considers several possibilities, performs a battery of tests using high-tech medical devices and tries out multiple treatments — until Dr. House has a brainstorm and solves the mystery. In real life, doctors do not have the same kind of time, resources, or wide-ranging knowledge of rare and obscure conditions, and they frequently misdiagnose medical problems.
How common is the problem? According to the Journal of the American Medical Association, autopsies of people who had fatal illnesses revealed that 20 percent had been misdiagnosed. Millions of patients are receiving treatments for diseases they do not have and thousands are likely to die as a result.
Commonly misdiagnosed diseases or conditions include:
Doctors are often under pressure to minimize the time they spend with each patient and the number of tests ordered. If they cannot bill for a consultation with a specialist or the time spent researching a problem, most likely these steps never occur. None of this, however, excuses physicians from making the correct diagnosis and ensuring that the patient receives effective treatment. When they neglect to do so, they may be liable for medical malpractice.
Doctors have a duty to provide adequate care to the patients who trust them, and when they fail to do so, they should be held accountable. An experienced Indiana medical malpractice attorney can explain your options for getting compensation if your misdiagnosis resulted in serious complications.