How the differential diagnosis process can go wrong

On Behalf of | Oct 8, 2021 | Medical Malpractice

Patients trust their doctors to make educated and responsible decisions about their health and wellness. After all, doctors go to school for years specifically to learn about how to recognize and treat diseases and disorders in patients and to improve their health. When a South Carolina resident makes the decision to seek medical care, they expect it to be competent, comprehensive, and effective.

However, not all patients receive the appropriate level of care from their medical providers. Patients can leave appointments feeling rushed or as if their concerns were disregarded. When doctors do not fully investigate the causes of their patients’ complaints, they may make erroneous diagnoses and fail to treat them for actual diseases and conditions.

The differential diagnosis process is an accepted medical practice to help practitioners rule out causes for their patients’ medical complaints. When doctors fail to follow it, they can make serious and even life-threatening errors in their diagnostic and treatment recommendations. Understanding the differential diagnosis process can help patients understand how and when their doctors missed critical steps in properly diagnosing their ailments.

What is a differential diagnosis?

Every patient wants a correct diagnosis for their ailment so that they can get the proper treatment. However, in some cases presenting symptoms may have different causes. When a patient may be suffering from a number of different conditions, their doctor may make a list or differential diagnosis of the possible causes of their suffering.

Once a doctor identifies the scope of their patient’s possible conditions, they can begin to exclude causes based on their investigation. They can ask their patient questions about their condition, their medical history, and their life. Based on the information they glean, they may be able to eliminate possible diagnoses from the list and arrive at the true cause of their patient’s medical need.

How a differential diagnosis can go wrong

One way that a differential diagnosis can go wrong is when a doctor simply chooses not to learn more about their patient. Through questions, tests, and other tools, doctors can gain insights into the overall health and wellness of those that they treat. A doctor who does not investigate can miss critical information about their patient’s condition and possible causes of suffering.

Another problem that may happen during the differential diagnosis process is the failure of a doctor to listen to their patient. When a doctor ignores or disregards the words and impressions shared by their patient, they can miss important details. Information is critical to the diagnostic process and some doctors choose to exclude their patients from the process, which can result in serious medical complications.

Getting appropriate and timely medical care is important for the health of all patients. The failure of doctors to follow proper diagnostic procedures can result in misdiagnoses, failures to diagnose, and other instances of medical malpractice. Legal help can be useful to those who have suffered losses at the hands of negligent medical practitioners.



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