Anyone who has worked the same career for some time typically develops a strong knowledge base related to their profession. For example, the barista at your favorite coffee shop probably remembers your regular order, even if you prefer your latte with no foam and double espresso. However, they could run into issues if they assume that everyone who wants a no foam latte prefers that extra shot of espresso.
The same kind of mental trap can happen to medical professionals. When they see people presenting the same kinds of symptoms day after day, they may tend to associate those symptoms with particular conditions or lifestyle choices. Unfortunately, that can lead to a physician making an assumption about the underlying cause of symptoms that fails to rule out the actual condition causing their issues.
The situation where a doctor makes a mistake regarding the cause of a patient’s condition is a misdiagnosis. In the event that they failed to reach a reasonable diagnosis, people refer to that situation as a failure to diagnose. Both of these scenarios leave patients vulnerable to worsening medical conditions, which is why both scenarios can give rise to medical malpractice claims.
You need your doctor to listen to you and treat you like an individual
There’s no question that the average physician has a difficult job. If they work in urgent care or an emergency room, they may see a broad spectrum of conditions and work under high levels of stress.
If they work as a primary care physician in an office setting, they probably have to squeeze in a lot of patients during their office hours.
Your doctor may listen to you or concerns for as little as 11 seconds on average. They will then try to extrapolate the information they gleaned in less than a quarter of a minute to produce an accurate diagnosis.
That could mean that your doctor skips over the potentially serious conditions that might have caused your symptoms in favor of going with the simplest diagnosis. Your doctor could also ignore symptoms that could point them toward the correct diagnosis if they don’t match up with their expectations.
An accurate diagnosis is critical to a positive prognosis
Whether you have cancer, a traumatic brain injury or a bacterial infection, accurate diagnosis is critical to connecting with the treatment that helps you get better. When a doctor fails to diagnose you or diagnoses you with the wrong condition, you can go weeks or months with your symptoms worsening or simply without the treatment that would help you improve.
The results of failing to diagnose a patient can be increased medical expenses, decreased quality of life or even substantial lost wages. In circumstances where you have suffered financial and medical hardship because your doctor didn’t listen to you or diagnose you properly, you may be able to make a medical malpractice claim or even bring a lawsuit against the physician or the practice.