When you go to the doctor, it is usually because you want answers and relief. You have experienced pain or concerning symptoms, and you are hoping your physician can get to the root of it and resolve the issue quickly. However, a quick diagnosis does not always mean a correct diagnosis.
The most common medical mistakes involve the diagnostic stage. From the very beginning, your doctor could get it wrong, allowing your illness to progress perhaps to the point of causing further or irreparable harm. Sadly, when doctors have busy practices or work in hectic emergency rooms, it is tempting to cut corners and rush to the easiest diagnosis.
How does this happen?
Diagnosing an illness is not easy, and it often involves many steps. If your doctor rushes or skips any of these steps, it may leave you with a wrong diagnosis. The medical staff should have gathered the following information to help them reach a reasonable analysis of your condition:
- Your personal medical history
- Any surgeries or other procedures you have had in the past
- The names and doses of prescription medications you are taking
- Any health conditions in your family history
- The names of any supplements, vitamins or over-the-counter medications you take regularly
- Your symptoms, including asking you probing questions to ensure the doctor understands what you are describing
Based on your answers to these and other questions and the results of a physical examination, your doctor should have ordered specific tests to rule out any conditions your symptoms may suggest. A doctor who fails to examine you or skips appropriate diagnostic tests may miss critical information that could have led to a more accurate diagnosis.
How are you feeling now?
Perhaps the surest sign that your doctor made a mistake in your diagnosis is that your symptoms are not improving. If your condition does not improve or begins to worsen despite medication your doctor prescribed, it may be a sign that your doctor is treating you for the wrong thing.
Another indication that your doctor made a mistake is when a second opinion does not confirm your doctor’s diagnosis. In such cases, you may be wise to seek the opinion of a third doctor or to visit a specialist. If a misdiagnosis has resulted in considerably injury, an illness that has progressed to a terminal stage or other complications, you may also consider speaking to a Virginia attorney about your legal options.