When examining a patient, doctors have a lot to consider. Certain symptoms can be signs of multiple conditions, and many conditions have many differing symptoms in different patients. It is therefore imperative doctors are thorough in their examinations and they consider every possible symptom and diagnosis. Only then will a patient receive the adequate treatment he or she deserves and expects.
Unfortunately, so called “premature closure” may be more common than we like to think. Premature closure occurs when, after reviewing a patient’s symptoms, a doctor makes a diagnosis without fully considering other diagnostic possibilities. When this happens, a patient can be irreparably harmed.
One woman suffered harm as a result of premature closure when her doctor failed to diagnose her with appendicitis. The woman, who was experiencing severe abdominal pain, went to the emergency room where she underwent a CT scan. When the test failed to detect signs of appendicitis, the doctor ruled the condition out and instead diagnosed the woman as having an ovarian cyst. In addition to the CT scan, the doctor reached this conclusion by looking to the patient’s medical history.
Yet, the woman’s pain continued. When she went to her gynecologist, the woman told him of her symptoms. He referred her to a surgeon, who, after running a quick and easy test on the woman, properly diagnosed her with appendicitis. Though the woman survived, the ordeal could have been life-threatening.
Those who suffer injuries because of a doctor’s error may be entitled to compensation. In Oregon, an attorney experienced with hospital negligence cases can help an injured individual bring a claim against an errant doctor. If negligence and causation can be proven, then compensation may be awarded for medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering. These recoveries can go a long way toward paying for long-term care, treating a permanent disability, and holding those responsible accountable for their actions.
Source: The Albany Herald, “Doctors sometimes guilty of premature closure,” Andy Miller, Jan. 17, 2013