In spite of the fact that doctors are highly trained, highly educated, and highly compensated, they make mistakes. They commit gaffes. They commit errors that often have disastrous consequences for people like you and me. Doctors make many different kinds of errors. One category of their errors may be called “failure to treat” errors. These errors form the basis of medical malpractice cases that make their way through the court system. In this blog post, I’ll explain what these errors are.
An example of a doctor making a failure-to-treat error is a doctor who makes a correct diagnosis and then fails to appropriately treat the patient.
A couple of more examples may make the error more clear.
Imagine a doctor performing a physical examination and discovering a breast lump. Instead of ordering a biopsy (a procedure to determine whether a tumor is malignant or benign), the physician simply instructs the patient to monitor the lump and return in a year. Here, the physician has correctly diagnosed a breast lump but his treatment is below acceptable standards of care. The physician is negligent.
In another case, imagine a doctor diagnosing a patient with cardiomyopathy (a chronic disease of the heart muscle, in which the muscle is abnormally enlarged, thickened, and/or stiffened). For six years, the doctor does no additional testing as the patient is unable to perform a treadmill test (a stress test used to help diagnose and evaluate heart problems) due to his high heart rate. The doctor continuously notes that the cardiomyopathy is “stable.” Ten years after that initial diagnosis, the patient goes to see the doctor with complaints of chest tightness and cough. Chest x-rays and an echocardiogram show an enlarged heart and severe disease. Before a heart transplant evaluation (a process to determine whether a heart transplant is appropriate) is complete, the patient has a heart attack. The heart attack results in very severe brain damage. While the doctor diagnosed the cardiomyopathy, he did not treat it appropriately with regular specialized testing or available medication that likely would have avoided the need for a heart transplant and would have avoided the heart attack and brain injury. Again, the dotor is negligent.
If you have suffered an injury due to the negligence of a medical professional in Maryland, you may have questions about your legal options. If you have not yet started a lawsuit and are contemplating bringing one, I encourage you to contact me today. I can answer your legal questions and would love to talk with you. You can reach me at 410-513-9978 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.