New York Medical Malpractice: What Is a Differential Diagnosis?

According to a report from Modern Healthcare, diagnostic errors are the top contributor to medical malpractice claims in the United States. When a medical professional fails to provide an accurate and timely diagnosis, it can cause serious harm to the patient. If you or your loved one was the victim of misdiagnosis, you may be able to hold the responsible doctor liable through a malpractice lawsuit.

This raises an important question: How do you prove liability in a doctor misdiagnosis claim? The short answer is that you must establish that the medical professional was negligent in making the incorrect diagnosis. Here, our medical negligence attorneys discuss a key concept that often plays an important role in misdiagnosis claims: differential diagnosis.

Differential Diagnosis: Explained

A differential diagnosis is a procedure that medical professionals use to determine the specific nature and cause of a patient’s illness. As explained by the U.S. National Library of Medicine, differential diagnosis is a tool that can be especially useful when doctors are trying to distinguish the patient’s disease/condition from other conditions that may show similar symptoms.

Why Is the Differential Diagnosis Important in a Medical Malpractice Claim?

If you have ever used WebMD or any other self-assessment tool to check on your own condition, you are probably already aware that many diseases—some serious, some less so—have relatively similar underlying symptoms. As an example, a symptom like generalized fatigue may be the warning sign of a very serious medical problem. Alternatively, fatigue may not be a big deal at all.

Here is why differential diagnosis is so important: Doctors should follow the proper protocols to ensure that serious, potentially life-threatening conditions are caught early or ruled out—by doing so, they can make sure that patients get effective, timely medical care. In diagnosing a condition, medical professionals should:

  • Gather all relevant information, including the patient’s personal medical history and unique risk factors;
  • Create a comprehensive list of possible diseases/conditions; and
  • Systematically rule-in or rule-out possible diagnoses.

Holding Medical Providers Liable for a Misdiagnosis or Delayed Diagnosis

Unfortunately, in far too many cases, medical professionals simply fail to follow the proper protocols. When doctors cut corners in the diagnostic process, mistakes can happen. For patients, this means that severe medical conditions may not be discovered until major damage has occurred—or, worse, it is already too late. If you or your loved one suffered harm due to doctor misdiagnosis, our medical malpractice lawyers are here to help you find out exactly what happened. Negligent medical providers must be held accountable.

Call Our Medical Malpractice Lawyer for Help

At Richmond Vona, LLC, our medical malpractice attorneys are skilled, experienced advocates for injured victims and their loved ones. If you or your family member was harmed because of a misdiagnosis, we can help. For a free, no commitment review of your medical malpractice claim, please contact our law firm right away. We represent patients and their families throughout Western New York, including in Buffalo, Rochester, Henrietta, Geneseo, Hamburg, and East Aurora.