Maybe it starts with fatigue, but soon you also have a body ache or experience shortness of breath. You try plugging in your symptoms into a search engine, only to get hit with numerous terrifying-sounding conditions. You have to go to a doctor in order to figure out what the symptoms mean. 

In fact, diagnosis is one of the most valuable services that physicians provide for patients. They help people figure out what causes their symptoms so that they can successfully treat their symptoms. Unfortunately, sometimes, doctors don’t diagnose a patient’s or they reach the wrong diagnosis. What happens in a misdiagnosis or a failure-to-diagnose situation?

Delays in diagnosis can mean a worse prognosis

Many medical conditions get worse the longer they go without treatment. From internal bleeding to cancer, speedy diagnosis is critical for the best outcomes. A condition could progress to a point where it is no longer fully treatable or reversible if a doctor doesn’t make quick and informed diagnostic decisions.

An improper or incorrect diagnosis can do severe harm

If a physician assumes someone has one medical condition but they actually have another, the damage that occurs is twofold. First and most obviously, the patient won’t get the treatment for the condition they actually have. As with failure to diagnose, this can mean that someone’s prognosis worsens over time. 

That negative impact is compounded by the fact that the doctor may have prescribed treatment for an inaccurate diagnosis. That treatment could worsen the actual medical condition or could have side effects that damage someone’s health. 

When doctors make diagnostic errors that result in a poor outcome for the patient, the patient themselves or their surviving family members may need to consider a medical malpractice claim against the physician involved.