Cranwell & Moore P.L.C., Attorneys at Law

A missed diagnosis can be medical malpractice in Virginia

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When Virginians think of medical malpractice, they may think of a doctor operating on the wrong body part, or a doctor making an anesthesia error and dosing a patient with too much medication. These situations may give rise to possible medical malpractice claims, but a doctor's lack of action via his or her failure to diagnose a patient's condition properly can also constitute medical negligence.

A patient's disease can worsen significantly if not identified in a timely fashion, and an injury may become more severe. If a doctor does not property identify a patient's condition upon initial examination, that doctor may be held liable for medical professional negligence. A central question to determine whether malpractice occurred is whether the treating doctor behaved as a reasonably prudent doctor under similar circumstances would have. If he or she did not, that may constitute malpractice.

Commonly, doctors may dismiss a patient's symptoms as minor or only temporary. A dismissal of a patient's symptoms as not worthy of treatment can easily cause further damage to a patient. Something that may require a simple course of treatment if caught early, such as a chip in a broken bone, may elevate to a much more severe situation that causes internal bleeding if not treated promptly.

Cancers may spread quickly if not caught by careful doctors and can lead a patient to suffer severe, and potentially fatal, results. If a court determines that by dismissing a patient's symptoms, the doctor did not act as a reasonable and prudent doctor would have, it may determine that the doctor acted negligently.

If you or a loved one has suffered health consequences due to doctor error, you may wish to seek legal counsel to discuss your rights and options.

Source: FindLaw, "Failed/Erroneous Diagnosis and Treatment", accessed Sept. 25, 2015

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