When you head to the doctor to talk about some concerning symptoms, you may or may not have some idea of what’s going on with your health – but the actual diagnosis is your doctor’s call to make.
Before a doctor makes a diagnosis, they’re supposed to evaluate all of your symptoms and consider any differential diagnoses. A differential diagnosis is any other condition that could account for your symptoms. Differential diagnoses should be carefully eliminated through further investigation and/or testing.
How does this work?
Imagine, for example, that you are a woman who goes to the hospital with nausea, shortness of breath and chest pain. The doctor tells you that you are having a panic attack but fails to consider that a heart attack – which is a differential diagnosis – can cause the same symptoms in women.
Since the doctor was certain of their diagnosis but failed to do the appropriate testing that would rule out anything more serious, any resulting injuries you suffer from the lack of care could be considered malpractice.
The failure to consider a differential diagnosis often happens because doctors either don’t listen carefully to their patients, don’t take the time to ask enough questions about things that the patient may not even realize are related to their condition or simply become overconfident in their own prowess.
When differential diagnoses aren’t properly considered, patients can easily end up with a misdiagnosis – and that can lead to tragic results. If a doctor failed you or your loved one because they didn’t “check all the boxes” when they were looking at diagnosis, it may be time to seek legal guidance.