Patients who seek care from Pittsburgh hospitals and doctors expect to receive the right diagnosis and timely treatment. If a doctor makes the wrong diagnosis and the patient does not receive treatment as soon as necessary, it could be the difference between life and death.
If you or someone you love suffered harm from a wrongful diagnosis, a Pittsburgh misdiagnosis lawyer could help. The medical malpractice attorneys at Lupetin and Unatin know the warning signs and telltale symptoms doctors and nurses often overlook on their way to reaching the wrong diagnosis.
How Doctors Diagnose Patients
Patients expect doctors to listen to them, ask the right questions, and look for red flags of life-threatening conditions. Doctors use a process known as “differential diagnosis” to create a list of potential diagnoses that can explain each of the patient’s signs and symptoms. The list of potential diagnoses will guide the doctor’s physical examination and help them choose the testing necessary to rule out or rule in the most life-threatening diagnoses first.
When Diagnosis Goes Wrong
In many cases of medical malpractice in Pittsburgh involving the wrong diagnosis, there is a breakdown in the diagnosing process. Doctors or nurses might overlook critical test results or symptoms or simply fail to consider the diagnosis which is the best match to the patient’s history, symptoms, and test results. Conditioned to think fast and care for multiple patients at a time, doctors may form early expectations for a patient’s diagnosis. A cognitive trap known as “confirmation bias” takes effect, and doctors will focus more on the medical evidence that supports the diagnosis they expect to make, while ignoring important test results or symptoms inconsistent with their expectations about the patient’s diagnosis.
Other reasons why doctors reach the wrong diagnosis or miss the correct diagnosis entirely include:
- Not listening carefully to the patient’s medical history
- Stereotyping patient problems as chronic and stable while missing warning signs of an acute, rapidly developing illness
- Failure to read the results of testing such as complete blood counts, blood cultures, or X-ray exams
- Failure to order important lab tests or other testing
- Lack of communication with nursing staff
- Breakdowns in communication between doctors
- Assuming patients with altered mental status or other symptoms consistent with brain injury are experiencing psychiatric problems
Anyone who suspects they have been misdiagnosed by a medical professional should get in touch with a Pittsburgh attorney right away to go over their legal options.
When Does a Misdiagnosis Become Malpractice?
A wrong or missed diagnosis will not always reach the level of a medical malpractice case. The failure to make the right diagnosis must lead to serious and permanent harm to the patient. Not every diagnosis is time-sensitive. For less serious medical conditions, delays in treatment will not prevent the patient from making a full recovery. Yet, many of the most common causes of death or disease in Americans need to be diagnosed as soon as possible to help patients avoid irreversible harm.
The Pittsburgh misdiagnosis attorneys at Lupetin and Unatin are skilled in spotting cases of wrong diagnosis involving time-sensitive emergencies such as heart attack, stroke, aneurysms in the brain or major arteries, pneumonia, blood infections, sepsis, and septic shock.
Reach out to a Pittsburgh Misdiagnosis Attorney Today
Medical emergencies can be extremely stressful, especially if it feels like your provider did not provide you the care and attention you deserve. You or a loved one may feel like your concerns were ignored or that the doctors didn’t pay enough attention to the warning signs of your serious illness or disease. If you are living with the consequences of a wrong diagnosis, the Pittsburgh misdiagnosis lawyers at Lupetin and Unatin can help you understand whether you have a case and work with you to pursue the compensation you need. Contact us today to get started.