When is a doctor's misdiagnosis a medical malpractice case?


Those Kentuckians who work in the medical field know that the practice of medicine still involves some amount of guesswork. As a result, doctors and other medical professionals have some leeway to figure out what is wrong with their patients, even if that process takes time and even if, initially, the doctor follows the wrong trail.

On the flip side, a delayed diagnosis or a misdiagnosis at the very best costs a patient valuable time and resources. Time in particular can be a precious commodity if the patient is in pain or the condition they are facing is serious. At worst, a mistaken diagnosis could mean a patient gets subject to a treatment that will only make their condition worse.

Some cases of misdiagnosis or delayed diagnosis are not just part of the practice of medicine but are in fact cases of medical malpractice, and a Kentucky patient, if they've been injured as a result, has the right to get compensation for their losses on account of their doctor's errors.

The distinction between an honest mistake and medical malpractice depends heavily on the process the doctor used to come to his or her diagnosis. Generally speaking, a doctor is supposed to know and list out the possible causes of the patient's ailment, listing each condition in the order of likelihood that it is the cause of the patient's medical problem. The doctor then goes down that list, performing further tests to rule out each condition until he or she finds the source of the problem.

Malpractice happens if the patient's true condition never makes it on to the doctor's list of possible causes in the first place. Malpractice also happens if the true condition is on the doctor's list, but the doctor does not follow the necessary steps to rule the condition out.

A misdiagnosis can have serious ramifications for a patient, and it is the doctor's responsibility to follow the process necessary to diagnose correctly. If a doctor fails in this responsibility, an injured patient may have a legal right to compensation.

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O'Brien Batten & Kirtley, PLLC

O'Brien Batten & Kirtley, PLLC
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