Leeseberg & Valentine

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Did the differential diagnosis process fail you?

As you already know, many medical conditions manifest the same symptoms. This may present a challenge for your doctor, but with all of the advancements in imaging technology and other diagnostic tools, your doctor should come to the correct diagnosis.

Unfortunately, not all Ohio doctors take the necessary steps in order to determine what ailment you suffer from, and that could end up causing you more harm. In fact, it could put your life in danger and result in permanent health consequences.

The differential diagnosis process

Your doctor may create a list of diseases and conditions that share your symptoms. When you go to your doctor's office, he or she uses your medical history, a physical examination and your symptoms to create this list. The medical field refers to this as a differential diagnosis. The first step in the process is to ask you a series of questions that may help eliminate some of the ailments on that list:

  • Do you smoke or drink alcohol? If so, how often?
  • What symptoms are you experiencing?
  • Does anything trigger your symptoms?
  • Does anything make your symptoms better or worse?
  • Do you currently take any prescription medications?
  • How long have you had these symptoms?
  • Does anyone in your family experience the same symptoms?
  • Does anyone in your family suffer from any conditions or diseases?
  • Have you experienced any stressors or major life events recently?

These and other questions may help your doctor narrow down the possibilities. This means that your doctor should take enough time with you to make sure that he or she not only asks the right questions, but all of the questions needed. You are not a doctor, so you may not realize something is important, so you rely on your doctor to root out the information needed in order to reach the right diagnosis.

After asking you a litany of questions, your doctor should perform a thorough medical examination. Additional tests may be ordered as well. This process should lead to a much narrower list of possible diseases and conditions from which you may suffer. When the process works as intended, you then receive the appropriate treatment and begin your recovery.

When the process fails

If your doctor fails to take the time to ask you the rights questions, perform a comprehensive exam or order the appropriate tests, you may not receive the correct diagnosis. If your doctor fails to come to the right diagnosis, you may go through the wrong treatment, which could make your condition worse. Moreover, the longer that some conditions go undiagnosed, the more in danger your life becomes.

If you failed to receive the right diagnosis or a timely diagnosis, you could suffer a significant amount of harm. Even if you eventually recover, you may never be the same again. If you don't fully recover, you could end up with permanent injuries. In either case, you suffered substantially at the hands of your doctor. It may be worth your while to determine whether you may pursue compensation and hold your doctor accountable.

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