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Failure to Diagnose as Medical Malpractice in Calgary

Posted in: Blog // Written on behalf of Cuming & Gillespie
August 20, 2015

Doctors, nurses, and other medical professionals in the Greater Calgary Area do a great job of keeping us healthy and helping us heal when we are afflicted by disease or suffer an injury-causing accident. They take their jobs very seriously, understanding the impact that a careless mistake or incorrect judgment can have on their patients’ lives. Mistakes do happen, though, and when they are the result of a medical professional’s negligence and lead to a serious injury or health setback for the patient, medical malpractice has occurred and those responsible need to be held accountable.

Many cases of medical malpractice are the result of errors in the treatments that are given—surgical errors, improper dosing or mixing of medications, infections caused by improper sanitation practices in hospitals, and so on. There are also cases of medical malpractice that arise out of inaction, or a failure to properly identify the medical problem a patient is suffering from. These instances, frequently referred to as “failure to diagnose,” can have serious consequences for the patients involved, and can entitle them to compensation for additional medical costs and other issues related to their undiagnosed disease.

When a Missed Diagnosis Becomes Malpractice

Some diseases are, by their very nature or due to their rarity, difficult to diagnose, and many fully competent and careful medical professionals might miss the diagnosis. When symptoms suggest the possibility of a multitude of different diseases, and/or when tests continue to provide inconclusive results, it is understandable that even the most highly trained and patient oriented physicians might not be able to determine the underlying cause of a patient’s problem. In such cases it would be wrong to hold the physician guilty of medical malpractice—there’s no such thing as perfection in the medical sciences.

There are also instances where a  missed or incorrect diagnosis does not lead to serious harm on the part of the patient. Minor symptoms are frequently best left alone or treated with simple drug store remedies rather than spurring a spate of invasive and costly testing; while this can lead to missed diagnoses for some diseases, it is often considered the most medically prudent course of action. Again, accusing medical professionals of malpractice in these cases would be a disservice to Calgary’s public health.

In order for a failure to diagnose to merit a medical malpractice case, the missed diagnosis must be due to physician errors or deviations from standard practice—that is, it needs to be demonstrated that another medical professional following accepted standards and guidelines would have made the correct diagnosis. In addition, a serious injury or setback has to have occurred for there to be a legitimate and economically viable medical malpractice claim.

Calgary Medical Malpractice Lawyers Can Help

If you or a family member has experienced a serious injury or prolonged hospitalization or illness due to a missed diagnosis, a dedicated Calgary medical malpractice lawyer can help you determine if you have a legitimate case. For a free initial consultation, contact Cuming & Gillespie today.

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