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Patients and families suffer when doctors get diagnoses wrong

Medical and health sciences are fascinating fields where developments in new treatments and technologies are constant and pervasive. New drug therapies, surgical techniques, and care strategies offer Texans and other Americans opportunities to remedy their ailments and pursue healthier lives. However, despite the rapid growth of knowledge within the medical community, a number of patients suffer from delayed, confusing or simply wrong diagnoses each year. While a problematic diagnosis can be a detriment to any patient, it can be especially traumatic when it affects a child.

Tragically, parents have lost custody of their children when doctors have suspected abuse, but when in reality, the children suffered from medical conditions that caused their skin to bruise, bones to break and other disturbing symptoms. Because young children cannot advocate for their own health, they are dependent on their caregivers to provide their doctors with the information needed to make proper diagnoses and in some cases, doctors fail to pursue all possible causes of their child patients' conditions before settling on diagnoses that may be both wrong and harmful to the kids' families.

Improper and wrong diagnoses can happen in a number of ways. They can result when doctors fail to gather sufficient information about their patients' conditions before settling on diagnostic answers. They can happen when doctors fail to provide their patients with timely diagnoses, when patients' conditions may have changed or worsened between the time they were seen and the time they received their diagnoses. Finally, bad diagnoses can occur when doctors do not effectively communicate their diagnoses to their patients.

There is no question that coming to a proper medical diagnoses can be challenging, even for the best doctors. But, not all doctors take the time to ensure that they have made the right call. Improper diagnoses can put patients' lives at risk and when the cause patients' to suffer losses, they can often be compensable through medical malpractice litigation.

Source: WCNC, "The wrong diagnosis: What happens when doctors are wrong?," Irene Cruz, March 23, 2017

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