Doctors get paid a lot of money because their skills are oftentimes invaluable in ensuring patient safety. These professionals use their specialized knowledge, developed over years, sometimes even decades, of education and on-the-job training to ensure that they can identify and differentiate medical conditions and then effectively treat them. There’s a lot at stake in this field, though, as a doctor who makes what may seem like a harmless mistake could actually be putting his patient’s life in jeopardy.
For an example, one need only look at skin cancer and a medical condition known as seborrheic keratosis. Skin cancer, especially melanoma, can affect not just the skin, but the rest of an individual’s body, putting him or her at risk of death. Fortunately, the prognosis of those with melanoma is good, but the chances are better the earlier the disease is caught.
The trouble is that skin cancer may be confused for seborrheic keratosis, which is a skin condition that causes skin growths that may be brown, patchy and waxy looking. These marks often develop as an individual ages, but they are not signs of cancer. In fact, other than being itchy and sometimes irritated, these marks don’t cause any harm. Since they can appear similar to skin cancer, though, each condition can be erroneously diagnosed as the other.
Therefore, doctors should run appropriate tests, such as conducting a biopsy, to confirm whether the spots are cancerous. Doctors who fail to perform these tests or accurately interpret test results can leave patients facing a worsened medical condition, additional pain and suffering and even death. Those who find themselves harmed by the negligence of a doctor based on a failure to diagnose may be able to take legal action to hold that individual and his or her employer accountable for the harm they have caused. To learn more, these individuals should consider reaching out to a medical malpractice attorney.