Overdiagnosis May be Considered Medical Malpractice
Quite a number of medical malpractice lawsuits are based on claims that the healthcare professional or provider made a medical error resulting in any number of serious gaffes; failure to diagnose, misdiagnosis, medication errors, wrong site surgery, retained surgical instrument, and so on. All of these are based on the allegation that somehow a mistake was made as pointed out on the website of Milwaukee personal injury lawyers at Habush Habush & Rottier S.C. ®. Overdiagnosis is slightly different.
For one thing, overdiagnosis is not an error per se. Many medical conditions are diagnosed based on a test or series of tests that have a certain rate of false positives. In other words, the tests may be carried out correctly and interpreted correctly, but positive indications of a medical condition may be wrong. This is normal, so it could be argued that because the tests were not infallible that the physician who makes an overdiagnosis is not at fault.
Physicians and other healthcare providers are trained to assess the condition of patients based on a number of factors, one of which is laboratory tests. However, they have the discretion to question test results, knowing that false positives are possible, given a set of circumstances that appear to negate a positive result, or to temper a diagnosis because the results show incipient disease but at a level that is negligible or a natural sign of aging.
The most commonly overdiagnosed conditions include cancer, chronic kidney disease, low testosterone, and pre-dementia. Most people have the risk factors indicative of these and other medical conditions but many remain asymptomatic, or die of causes unrelated to these diseases before it has time to develop. Some do develop early signs of disease but which spontaneously regress with reasonable care.
There are many ways that person is harmed by negligence. The danger of overdiagnosis is the effect on quality of life. People are so scared of becoming sick that even when there is every indication of good health, they undergo unnecessary treatments that are not only expensive but may have unanticipated consequences that have an adverse effect on health worse than the feared condition. A healthcare provider that knowingly overdiagnoses may be considered negligent when it leads to injury or harm to the patient.