Seeing a doctor can be a very frustrating experience for someone with painful or disruptive symptoms. Even if a patient shows up to their appointment right on time, they will likely end up waiting for some time to go back to a room and then even longer after that for a physician to actually meet with them.
After all of that waiting, the patient will likely expect to receive the undivided attention of their doctor. They’ll want to review their symptoms and talk with their doctor to figure out the underlying cause of their issues. Unfortunately, doctors often have to see many patients and may rush through their interaction with an individual, potentially making major mistakes in their diagnostic conclusions.
If a patient believes that a doctor did not listen to them or failed to diagnose them properly, they may have been the victim of medical malpractice in the form of a diagnostic error. If they suffer harm as a result of that error, their situation may be legally actionable.
Research shows that doctors don’t take the time to listen
Trying to explain the physical symptoms that have developed since someone’s last medical appointment can be a challenge. Unfortunately, doctors often do not have the patience to wait for someone to fully explain their circumstances. On average, primary care physicians only let patients talk for roughly 11 seconds before interrupting them. The result may be that the physician doesn’t fully listen to the patient or that the patient doesn’t finish talking, which means the doctor won’t have all of the necessary information about their experience. Doctors can then very easily make a mistake by either failing to diagnose that patient or reaching the wrong diagnosis.
How diagnostic errors hurt people
There are two ways in which a diagnostic mistake can have negative consequences for the patient. The first is that they won’t receive the treatment they require for their condition. Particularly when someone has a condition that will progress, like a severe infection or cancer, early detection can be crucial for the best possible prognosis. The second issue with diagnostic errors is that if the doctor reaches the wrong conclusion, a patient might undergo completely unnecessary medical treatment. Every year, millions of people experience delays in diagnosis or errors because doctors don’t listen to them or don’t take their self-reported symptoms seriously. In scenarios where diagnostic errors lead to more lost wages or additional medical expenses, the patients affected may be able to pursue a medical malpractice lawsuit.
Holding physicians and their employers accountable for diagnostic mistakes can help patients cover their costs and potentially change the standard of care at a practice in need of reform.