What Are Diagnostic Errors? 

Diagnostic errors are mistakes that occur at any stage of diagnosing an injury, illness, or medical condition. 

There are three main types of diagnostic errors: 

  • Misdiagnosis: Misdiagnosis occurs when a healthcare provider diagnoses a patient with an injury, illness, or medical condition that they do not have. Often, a patient will seek medical attention after experiencing symptoms of a certain condition. If the attending doctor does not accurately recognize the symptoms and diagnoses the patient with another condition, this is considered a misdiagnosis.
  • Delayed Diagnosis: Delayed diagnosis happens when a healthcare provider unreasonably and/or unnecessarily delays diagnosing a patient’s injury, illness, or medical condition. This could occur if a healthcare provider failed to promptly order further testing after a patient reported certain symptoms, or if a healthcare provider failed to assess a patient’s condition quickly and accurately after the patient came to the emergency room seeking treatment.
  • Missed Diagnosis: Sometimes referred to as “failure to diagnose,” a missed diagnosis occurs when a patient does not receive any diagnosis after seeking medical attention for symptoms of a certain condition. For example, if a patient sees a doctor for certain symptoms they have been experiencing, but the doctor dismisses those symptoms and sends the patient home without a diagnosis, this could be considered a missed diagnosis.

Diagnostic errors have serious effects, as a patient cannot begin receiving proper treatment if they do not have the correct diagnosis. When a patient is misdiagnosed, they may receive treatment for a condition they do not have. At best, this means that the patient is not getting the treatment they need; at worst, unnecessary treatment could actually cause harm to the patient. 

Legal Awards

How Do Diagnostic Errors Happen? 

Misdiagnoses, delayed diagnoses, and missed diagnoses can—and do—happen due to a wide variety of reasons. 

Some of the most common causes of diagnostic errors include: 

  • Multiple healthcare providers treating a single patient
  • Poor communication between providers, fellow providers, and patients
  • Failure to properly recognize and/or respond to symptoms 
  • Healthcare provider inexperience or overconfidence 
  • Failure to order or delayed order or diagnostic tests
  • Laboratory mistakes, including contaminated test samples
  • Misanalysis or misreading of diagnostic test results
  • Insufficient time spent with patients 
  • Failure to check in or follow up with patients

These types of mistakes should never happen. In fact, many constitute a breach of the accepted standard of care. When this happens, the patient may have grounds for a medical malpractice claim against the liable healthcare provider. 

Proving Liability in Misdiagnosis & Other Diagnostic Error Cases

It can be difficult to prove liability in a diagnostic error case. Some health conditions are difficult to diagnose, and many have overlapping or similar symptoms. It is not enough to prove that you sought medical treatment and did not receive an accurate diagnosis right away. Instead, you must prove that the medical provider who treated you failed to act in a way that another qualified provider would have or acted in a way that another qualified provider would not have in the same or similar circumstances.

For example, if you saw a doctor because you were experiencing an array of strange symptoms, and your doctor was unable to provide a diagnosis at the initial visit but still order diagnostic tests and referred you to a specialist, this does not necessarily constitute a breach of the accepted standard of care. If, however, your doctor reviewed your symptoms and concluded that they were not serious without ordering any tests or referring you to a specialist, you could have a claim.

What Types of Damages Can Be Recovered in a Misdiagnosis Claim? 

Diagnostic errors often result in delayed treatment or even no treatment at all. This can have many serious consequences for patients. Many will experience worsened symptoms, and, without proper treatment, these symptoms can even become life-threatening. As a result, patients may require further medical care and may miss more work. They could even become unable to work at all if their medical condition is disabling. 

These and other consequences can lead to numerous physical, emotional, and financial losses. Collectively, these losses are referred to as “damages,” and you may be able to recover compensation for your damages by filing a diagnostic error malpractice claim.

Some common damages in misdiagnosis claims and other cases involving diagnostic errors include: 

  • Past and future medical expenses
  • Past and future lost income/wages
  • Loss of earning ability
  • Past and future pain and suffering
  • Lost quality/enjoyment of life 
  • In-home assistance and care costs 
  • Mental distress and anguish
  • Funeral and/or burial expenses 
  • Loss of companionship 
  • Loss of love, support, counsel, comfort, and society
  • Loss of inheritance

At Curtis & Co., our Albuquerque misdiagnosis lawyers fight to recover maximum compensation for our clients. Our goal is to help you and your family heal so that you can begin to move forward with your lives. We have helped clients affected by healthcare providers’ misdiagnoses of cancer, heart attack, stroke, and other serious conditions leading to the wrongful death of the patient. We understand the stakes, and we know what it takes to win. 

If You Think Something Went Wrong, You May Be Right

The medical profession holds licensed physicians, nurses, and healthcare facilities to various strict standards of care. However, doctors don’t always give patients credit for understanding their bodies or following their intuition. In many misdiagnosis cases, the injured patient will say that he or she knew something wasn’t right about the doctor’s decisions or prescribed treatment.

If you feel as if something wasn’t right about the expected level of care you or your loved one received, call Curtis & Co. to discuss the circumstances of your case. Before we accept a medical malpractice case, we gather medical records, review reports, and thoroughly investigate the circumstances of your claim. If the diagnosis or prescribed medical treatment was wrong and caused harm or death, we can help you seek justice and fight to hold the wrongdoers accountable. If we feel the doctor did, indeed, meet the expected level of professional care, we will give you an honest assessment and explain what happened.

Why Choose the Diagnostic Error Attorneys at Curtis & Co.? 

We are committed to representing the rights of individuals and families with valid medical malpractice claims. We understand the immense impact diagnostic errors have, both on victims and their loved ones. We believe that the provider, hospital, or medical group responsible for the diagnostic error must be held accountable for past and future medical costs, pain and suffering, loss of enjoyment of life, lost wages, lost earning capacity, and the loss of the value of life when a person passes away as a result of the diagnostic error. 

Our Albuquerque misdiagnosis lawyers are known for their aggressive approach to litigation and their willingness to go to trial, as well as their dedication to providing every client with the personal attention and compassionate counsel they deserve. We treat every client like family; you can trust that we will respond quickly to your calls and emails, answer any questions you may have, and take the time to truly get to know you, your concerns, and your goals from the legal process. 

If you believe that your misdiagnosis, delayed diagnosis, or missed diagnosis was the result of medical malpractice or negligence, call us today at (505) 871-3740 for a free consultation.

Curtis & Co. Curtis & Co.
You are passionate, persistent, and from everything that I saw today, a brilliant lawyer and orator.

What Sets Us Apart:

  • 25 Years of Experience
    Founding Attorney Lisa K. Curtis has pursued law since the young age of 6. This is all we've ever wanted to do, and we've done it well for decades.
  • Treating Clients Like Family
    We're a smaller firm so we can give our clients the focus and attention they deserve. You've been wronged, and we stop at nothing to make it right.
  • Compassionate, Capable Advocates
    We know how difficult it is not only to experience the injustice you did, but to be brave enough to move forward. We're here with you every single step of the way.
  • Committed to the Well-Being of New Mexico
    New Mexico is and always has been our home and chief priority. Our families go back centuries here, and we look to better this community with every move we make.

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