When a doctor makes a mistake and diagnoses a patient with a specific condition which that patient does not have, it leads to all manner of issues. Patients usually trust their doctors and do not often question them. This gives doctors a certain sort of power, as their word is often taken as the truth by the patient, and that is why mistakes are so problematic.
In cases like this, there are two main types of harm that can come to a patient who is getting treatment for a non-existent condition. They are:
- The harm caused by the lack of care for the actual problem that the patient does have. If a patient has cancer that does not get treated, for instance, the cancer can spread. The patient may also continue to have the symptoms they had before — weight loss, pain, weakness, etc — and those symptoms may continue to get worse. This happens even as they get treatment for the ailment that the doctor thought they had.
- The harm caused by the treatment itself. On the other side of the coin, maybe a patient was told that they had cancer when they did not. A doctor then orders a surgical procedure to remove the cancer and puts the patient into a chemotherapy program. The patient now has to heal and recover after surgery, they may have a lasting disfigurement and they have to deal with the heavy physical toll that chemo takes on the body. Since the patient did not have cancer, this is all unnecessary harm.
For both types of harm, it is important for patients to know what legal options they have. Medical malpractice claims can provide compensation for the victims of a mistaken diagnosis — and give them the means to better support their families and themselves.