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Failure to diagnose can lead to death

A doctor or nurse's failure to diagnose is a common reason for medical malpractice claims in Hawaii. While this can delay treatment and make the condition worse, it can also lead to death in certain situations.

According to Live Science, a failure or delay to diagnose occurs most often with cases of heart attacks and cancer in adults and meningitis in children. As a result of these errors, most of the cases result in death. One of the reasons for a misdiagnosis is the symptoms may mirror those of less severe issues, preventing the doctor from ordering additional diagnostic tests. This often occurs in women, whose heart attack symptoms often mimic gastrointestinal problems.

According to the California Association for Nurse Practitioners, other life-threatening problems that are often misdiagnosed include abscesses, infections and sepsis. There are common causes involved in the failure to make a correct diagnosis. These include:

  • Failure to request necessary consultations
  • Failure to order tests needed to establish diagnosis
  • Failure to send patients out for emergency treatment
  • Delay or failure to get and/or assess diagnostic test results

In a medical malpractice claim, negligence is determined when the practicing healthcare practitioner did not take the appropriate steps or follow the standard of care. Doctors and nurses need to constantly keep up-to-date with all new protocols and tests, ask about other medications and herbal supplements and inquire about family history. They must also follow their professional association's standards, which typically include taking detailed records. Following these protocols not only help doctors make better diagnoses but it also helps them in court.

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