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Failure to Diagnose in a Medical Malpractice Case

Failure to diagnose a serious condition can be a basis for medical malpractice lawsuit, as the doctor has failed to provide the basic standard of care to the patient. To take an actual example, a person goes to his primary doctor, as he is suffering from significant pain in his left shoulder. The doctor performs a checkup and tells the patient he is fine.

The patient is not convinced, since he feels that he might have a serious heart problem, and literally begs the doctor to perform an EKG test. The doctor finally relents and performs the EKG. The doctor then reads and interprets the test results, and declares to the patient that his heart is perfectly healthy. The doctor tells the patient there is nothing wrong with him, and that he should take some pain relievers and rest.

Complications Develop because the Main Issue was not Diagnosed

The patient put his trust in the doctor, and does exactly what the doctor said. He goes home and tries to sleep, but due to the excruciating pain in his shoulder, he is not able to sleep. Early next morning the patient calls for an ambulance. The patient narrates to the ambulance attendant what happened the previous day. He tells the attendant, the doctor took an EKG and declared everything was fine with his heart.

The ambulance attendant tells the patient, if he takes him to the hospital, he will have to wait for hours. The patient feels he cannot wait for hours for a checkup, and since he has another appointment with another doctor, he sends the ambulance away.

A Terrible Situation

However, by the time, the patient manages to go to the other doctor his condition had worsened drastically. He now has much more pain in his left shoulder and it is radiating to his chest as well. This other doctor also performs an EKG and finds out the patient is undergoing a massive heart attack. The doctor immediately calls an ambulance and the patient is rushed to the local emergency room.

The patient tells the ER doctors that a doctor had taken an EKG just the previous day and declared his heart normal. The ER doctors look at that EKG and find out that it showed very abnormal readings. They tell the patient if he had come yesterday with this EKG they would have immediately performed emergency cardiac catheterization, and the massive heart attack he was suffering now could have been prevented.

The surgery would have opened up the blocked heart vessel, which was responsible for the heart attack. If the surgery were done in time, the patient never would have suffered the heart attack.

Failure to Diagnose is Violation of Terrific and Accepted Standard of Medical Care

In this case, it is a clear case of violation of doctor's standard of decent and accepted medical care. The doctor was unable to read a simple EKG and interpret the abnormality of the patient's heart. This resulted in the patient having a massive heart attack the next day. The doctor can be sued for medical malpractice because he failed to diagnose a serious heart condition.

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