Missed Diagnosis/ Failure to Treat
In this age of advanced medical knowledge and technology, few issues should come as a surprise to health care providers. This is especially true with regard to pregnancy and childbirth.
With the aid of imaging devices, fetal non-stress tests and blood evaluations, there are many ways for doctors and other providers to detect conditions or problems that otherwise would be unknown until it was too late.
Unfortunately, a missed diagnosis and failure to treat occurs far too often in pregnancy, labor and delivery and during neonatal care. At The Law Offices of Jeffrey S. Glassman, our Boston birth injury lawyers recognize outcomes of missed diagnosis and failure to treat range from minor to life-threatening health complications, and sometimes death.
The legal course of action available to those affected will depend on whether a patient-provider relationship had been established, the standard of care for that professional and the extent of harm suffered by the patient.
- Misdiagnosis: A situation in which a patient is given a diagnosis for some condition or illness that is incorrect. This could result in improper or delayed treatment.
- Delayed Diagnosis: When a patient does not receive a correct diagnosis until such time that harm has resulted from failure to treat.
- Missed Diagnosis: A situation in which there is a lack of diagnosis, leading to inaccurate treatment or no treatment at all.
- Failure to Treat: This could mean not receiving appropriate treatment due to an improper diagnosis or it could mean knowing the correct diagnosis, but not initiating treatment in a way that is timely and appropriate.
Each of these issues can have long-term consequences for both mother and child. The primary test for whether a patient has a justified claim is based solely on a poor outcome or even necessarily whether the doctor made a mistake. Rather, courts weighing Massachusetts medical malpractice claims will consider whether the doctor abided by the accepted standard of care. That is, did the doctor exercise a degree of prudence and caution required of an individual in his or her professional position considering the circumstances?
Our experienced injury attorneys can help your family navigate the system and determine the best course of action for your situation.Understanding Diagnoses That are Missed, Delayed or Incorrect
A failure to properly diagnose occurs when a health care provider fails to detect and diagnose a condition or illness that could have otherwise been treated. Health care providers typically have medical teams that include nurses, technicians, lab workers and others who have an important role in identifying issues before they become problems or in identifying problems quickly.
Consequences of a missed, delayed or incorrect diagnosis for pregnant women, new mothers and babies can be devastating. When there is a wrong diagnosis or a lack of a correct one, precious time is lost that could have been spent treating the underlying illness or condition.
Some examples of this may include:
- Failure to conduct an in-depth examination of mother’s medical history.
- Failure to order or accurately read necessary tests and screenings.
- Failure to identify or monitor gestational diabetes, maternal preeclampsia or infection.
- Failure to identify distress of the fetus.
- Failure to detect blood clots or other issues with hemorrhaging.
- Failure to identify the position of the baby (if child is breech).
- Failure to determine whether child is too large for a successful vaginal delivery.
- Failure to detect jaundice in the newborn.
- Failure to identify other newborn infant health concerns, such as oxygen deficiency, respiratory problems or infections.
In some cases, these conditions must be identified in a period of weeks or days. In other cases, immediate diagnosis and action is imperative.
Each of these conditions has specific symptoms, and doctors are expected to be well-versed in these and in the appropriate action to take.Failure to Treat
Most pregnancy, delivery and neonatal complications can be minimized if they are promptly and properly treated. Even when health care providers have all the right information and diagnoses, they may not initiate the appropriate course of action.
Failure to treat is cause for legal action when it results in harm to the baby or mother.
Some common causes of failure to treat:
- Dismissing symptoms as being “not very serious” or “no cause for concern”;
- Lack of experience;
- Overstaffing/ juggling too many responsibilities or patients at one time (this could be the fault of the hospital or facility);
- Substance abuse;
- Failure to identify the warning signs or symptoms.
The effects of negligence through failure to treat can be very serious, and sometimes fatal. It’s important for parents and loved ones to become educated about their legal options. We can help.