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Differential diagnosis and medical malpractice

When a Massachusetts resident goes to the doctor, an accurate diagnosis is a basic expectation. When a misdiagnosis or a wrong diagnosis is made, severe harm can befall a patient.

Typically, doctors are supposed to perform what is known as differential diagnosis. This is a process by which a doctor examines a patient, analyzes his or her symptoms, then creates a list of potential diagnoses in descending order of probability. After this list is created, a doctor can start to work through them, ruling out some conditions. The doctor should perform tests and clearly document why certain conditions are ruled out.

If the doctor does not properly perform the differential diagnosis, a patient may be able to file a medical malpractice lawsuit. If the doctor neglected to put the correct diagnosis on the list or failed to properly rule out diagnoses, and that mistake led to harm, the patient may want to investigate whether medical malpractice occurred. In order to impose liability for medical malpractice it is not enough to show that the diagnosis turned out to be incorrect. The patient must be able to show that a reasonably prudent doctor in the same or similar circumstances would have made the correct diagnosis.

Medical malpractice cases can have a lot of moving parts. The assistance of an attorney with experience in this field can prove beneficial in seeking the compensation needed to cover pain and suffering, medical expenses and lost income. A knowledgeable medical malpractice lawyer will know how to collect medical records, subpoena witnesses, examine medical professionals, and make convincing legal arguments based on the law.

Source: FindLaw, "Failed/Erroneous Diagnosis and Treatment," accessed on Aug. 5, 2016

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