June 26, 2018
Malpractice at Routine Doctor’s Appointments
No one likes going for a medical checkup but, unfortunately, it is important to your overall health to do so. It is good to check in with a trusted medical professional on a regular basis to discuss any changes in your health or other concerns. Physicians should know how to best spend time with patients to identify any health issues and advise patients on how to lower the risk of developing certain conditions.
When you think of medical malpractice, you likely think of doctors making grave errors during surgery, the birth of a child, or other dramatic circumstances. However, medical mistakes can happen when you least expect it at a routine doctor’s appointment. Often, you may go in for a checkup with a general physician, OBGYN, ophthalmologist, or other doctors thinking that everything is completely fine. Some patients later discover that they have suffered an unnecessary injury because their doctor made a serious error during that appointment.
Doctors can make errors without being liable for medical malpractice. Malpractice happens when a doctor breaches the medical standard of care, which is providing the care that a reasonable and similarly trained doctor would provide in similar circumstances. For example, if your OBGYN makes an error, the following may be true:
- If another OBGYN would have possibly made the same error when presented with you as a patient, it may be a simple mistake and likely does not rise to the level of medical malpractice.
- If another OBGYN would likely not have made the same mistake based on the information provided during your appointment, the error likely constituted medical malpractice.
Often, identifying instances of medical malpractice requires analysis by other medical experts. In the above example, another OBGYN expert can review what happened and the conduct of your doctor and give their opinion whether your doctor met the standard of care or not. Each case will need to be closely examined based on the specific circumstances. However, the following is some additional information about common instances of medical malpractice that may occur during routine medical exams.
Failure to Diagnose
Most people do not go into a regularly-scheduled check up asking for a doctor to diagnose a condition. Instead, they may make a separate appointment if they suspect they have an illness or injury. That being said, part of a routine examination is for a doctor to question a patient about anything out of the ordinary and assess whether these may be indications of any new medical issues. In addition, a doctor should physically examine you and should be able to tell when something doesn’t feel or look right. In addition, doctors should perform the expected tests, review the results, and diagnose any abnormalities or illnesses.
If a doctor does not properly diagnose a condition that should have been apparent, the patient can be deprived of the treatment they need and may suffer preventable complications of their condition. In such cases, a patient may have a strong case for medical malpractice.
Not Recommending Certain Tests
There are some tests that doctors will routinely perform with every patient. Furthermore, doctors should recognize when a patient has a higher risk of developing certain conditions and perform any additional tests as appropriate. Risk factors can include age, weight, family history, medical history, taking certain medications, and more.
For example, once adults reach a certain age, they should undergo tests such as a colonoscopy, mammogram, prostate exam, or similar tests that identify conditions more common in middle to older age. If a patient’s mother and sister both had breast or ovarian cancer, the patient should likely undergo regular cancer screenings earlier than patients with no genetic history of cancer. These are only a few examples of situations in which doctors should order certain tests for certain patients.
Failure to recommend such tests can lead to a significantly delayed diagnosis of any conditions. If a patient did not undergo appropriate tests based on their risk factor, their condition can worsen and may even become life-threatening. Negligent doctors may be held liable for the losses of such patients.
Misreading Test Results
In some cases, doctors may order the right tests but may misread the results and, therefore, miss an important diagnosis. This can be true with many tests, including blood tests, x-rays, MRIs, biopsies, and many more. Reading the results correctly is an essential part of any medical test and if a doctor does not closely review test results in light of a patient’s medical history, they can fail to diagnose a condition and cause unnecessary injuries to a patient.
Many doctor’s appointments end with a physician handing a patient a prescription to have filled at a pharmacy or even giving a patient a sample medication to take home. Deciding which medications are appropriate is a huge part of any doctor’s job, though many harmful mistakes can happen during this process. Doctors may make the following errors, among others:
- Not review medical records or question patients regarding possible drug allergies
- Fail to know all of a patient’s current medications and supplements to determine whether any adverse drug interactions may occur
- Write a prescription for the incorrect type of medication or the incorrect dosage
- Fail to warn patients of possible side effects of a drug so they can make an informed decision about taking it
Prescription errors can cause serious problems for patients and often require additional medical care.
Contact a Philadelphia Medical Malpractice Lawyer for Help Today
At The Levin Firm, we know that medical malpractice can happen in any medical setting – even a routine doctor’s appointment. We also know how complicated the resulting legal case can be. Our firm has experience representing patients who have suffered serious injuries at the hands of physicians and other doctors they should have been able to trust. Doctors often try to avoid liability for malpractice and the losses of their patients, but the right attorney will know how to stand up for your rights. Please call 215-825-5183 or contact our office online to discuss a possible claim today.