Our medical malpractice attorneys have frequently written about the severe consequences, and legal liability, associated with the failure to diagnose a particular condition or disease. But what if the doctor fails to make any real diagnosis at all?
The complete failure to diagnose a condition can be one of the most devastating things a patient can experience, especially where the patient is experiencing serious problems. Furthermore, the consequences of a general failure to diagnose can be every bit as severe as any other form of misdiagnosis — as the undiagnosed condition advances undetected, it becomes less effectively treatable.
Some reasons why a physician may fail to offer any diagnosis of a patient’s symptoms include:
- Failure to take a patient’s complaints seriously;
- Failure to consider and evaluate a more serious and life-threatening condition based on general symptoms, such as persisting headaches (i.e. “differential diagnosis”);
- Multiple, simultaneous medical problems, whose dueling symptoms confuse the issue;
- Failure to account for drug interactions;
- Conditions which are unusual in a particular type of patient (for example, colon cancer in a young adult);
When there is a complete failure to diagnose, both the patient and the physician can become increasingly frustrated. This often becomes an unfortunate cycle – the patient begins to question herself and her own judgment about his condition, often while her symptoms continue to worsen, and the physician becomes increasingly hostile as the patient repeatedly returns, taking her less seriously each time.
Indeed, physicians who fail to make a diagnosis often blame the patient’s symptoms on hypochondria. If you have a physician who has failed to make any diagnosis of your symptoms, and you do not know yourself to be a hypochondriac, the best practice is to seek out another doctor, one who will take you seriously and treat you with respect. Furthermore, if you believe the physician has resorted to placating you with a “trashcan” diagnosis — essentially a fake diagnosis — it is time to find a new doctor.
Above all, be persistent. You are the best judge of your own health; if your doctor remains unresponsive, press her. If she still will not assist you, find a doctor who will.
Passen & Powell has represented many individuals and families of those who have either been killed or have lost years of opportunity to treat their serious conditions, such as various forms of cancer, based on their doctors’ failure to diagnose their condition. For a free consultation with an attorney Passen & Powell to discuss a case involving failure to diagnose cancer or some other serious condition, call us at (312) 527-4500, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org, or fill out a case evaluation form on our website.