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Diagnosis failure: how doctors start off on the wrong foot

It is a familiar saying among health care professionals and the general public alike that when it comes to the practice of medicine, the first commandment is, "First, do no harm." The axiomatic nature of this imperative is easy to understand, but even with years of education, training and experience doctors and other medical professionals are not always able to live up to it.

This failure is usually not the result of any deliberate intent. Rather, the increasing body of medical knowledge can actually become confusing in some situations, because a person's symptoms can be evidence of more than one possible illness or injury. When a person goes to the emergency room or an urgent care facility, it is up to the medical personnel there to make the right diagnosis: for making the wrong one (e.g., mistaking a heart attack for something else) can have disastrous consequences.

There are many ways for a doctor or a nurse to draw the wrong conclusions when it comes to diagnosing what is really wrong with a patient. Aside from misinterpreting symptoms, it is also possible to misread X-rays or MRIs, or to reach a correct diagnosis but to fail to do so in a timely manner because of confusion about the true cause or nature of the patient's malady. If this misdiagnosis or delay in diagnosis leads to harm, then the question arises whether a negligence-based cause of action can be brought against the doctor, the hospital, or both.

It is not usually easy to establish misdiagnosis or delayed diagnosis as the proximate cause of harm to a patient. That is why at the Bowling Law Firm we engage not only the experience of our attorneys, but also medical experts when investigating medical malpractice claims. If the investigation of the facts leads to the conclusion that a diagnosis failure, or some other cause related to negligence, is what caused a client's harm, we can help to reach a just settlement with the health care professional, the health care institution and their insurer; or if need be, we can take the client's claim through litigation.

Contact us for an initial consultation to see how we can put our two decades of experience in Louisiana personal injury law to work for you.

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