At some point in our lives, all of us will experience symptoms that are consistent with one medical condition or another. The job of medical professionals is to further assess those symptoms so that accurate diagnoses can be made and effective courses of treatment can be prescribed. The challenge, though, is that there are 200 symptoms and more than 10,000 diseases, which means that a symptom could potentially be one of 50 medical conditions. This is why doctors need to be diligent in their search for what ails an individual.
Those medical professionals who fall short in this regard can cause unthinkable harm. In one instance, for example, a woman went to various doctors for more than two years seeking treatment for her sickness. However, during that time, she was only given treatment that caused minor relief of her symptoms. It wasn't until after those two years had passed that she was diagnosed with metastatic colorectal cancer. Had the disease been caught earlier, the woman may have had a significant chance of long-term survival. Now, though, the only thing doctors can do for her is help manage her pain.
The medical field is well-aware of the issue of misdiagnosis. However, it has yet to effectively find a way to measure the frequency with which these events occur. With that being said, a 2014 study found that one out of every 20 patients is subjected to an error in diagnosis. That same study estimated that somewhere between 40,000 and 80,000 deaths result each year on account of these medical mistakes.
Such errors are unacceptable. Medical professionals need to take their responsibilities seriously by treating each patient as if their symptoms could be a sign of something serious. When these doctors and nurses fail to properly diagnose a medical condition and that failure results in harm, including a worsened medical condition or a decreased chance of survival, then a medical malpractice lawsuit may be justified. This legal action could help address the harms and damages experienced while holding a negligent medical professional accountable.