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What is a differential diagnosis?

On Behalf of | May 27, 2021 | Medical Malpractice |

A new medical condition can be an overwhelming and scary experience for a New Yorker. When an individual begins to suffer symptoms that they cannot identify and do not understand, they may turn to their trusted doctor for help with a diagnosis and remedy. In the medical field, differential diagnosis is the process many doctors use to work through a patient’s condition to arrive at the right diagnosis for their situation.

However, the failure of a medical professional to use the differential diagnosis process can result in a serious medical situation: misdiagnosis. A misdiagnosis happens when a medical professional determines a wrong cause of their patient’s illness or injury. Misdiagnosis can leave individuals with ongoing suffering and worsened medical conditions if their underlying ailments are not properly treated.

This post will discuss differential diagnosis and why it is important. It will introduce readers to the problem of misdiagnosis and what they can do if they experience it. No part of this post is offered as medical or legal advice. When a misdiagnosis happens, it is important that the victim understands their options and speaks with a medical malpractice attorney about their rights.

Differential diagnosis as a path to the right answer

Differential diagnosis is a process that medical practitioners used to arrive at correct diagnosis. For example, if a doctor has a patient come to their office with a headache, they must determine the cause of their patient’s pain. If they jump immediately to a brain tumor, they may subject their patient to significant medical procedures that they do not need. However, if they assume the headache is only a headache and send them home, they may miss important clues into the true cause of their patient’s suffering.

When completing a differential diagnosis, a doctor may look at a patient’s medical history and current situation. They may run tests and examinations to look for other signs that may indicate the cause of their patient’s troubles. After thorough evaluation, the differential diagnosis process should result in the correct diagnosis for the patient and a path to treatment.

Malpractice in the form of misdiagnosis

The differential diagnosis process can take time. The fact that a doctor does not arrive at an immediate diagnosis for an individual’s suffering is not a sign of malpractice. However, a doctor who fails to consider all possible situations which may be causing their patient’s medical problems may miss important information and cause their patient to suffer a misdiagnosis.

When suffering a misdiagnosis, it is important that a victim receives the medical treatment they need to remedy their underlying condition and any harm they suffered from their misdiagnosis. When they are on the road to recovery, they may choose to discuss their legal options with knowledgeable medical malpractice lawyers.

 

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