Failure to diagnose is recognized as a major cause of medical malpractice claims. The reported case is not filed in Maryland but it follows the same general contours of negligence law that underlies the usual medical claim. A couple is suing a physician for failure to diagnose and treat a large epidural abscess. The complaint states that in July 2011 the husband was admitted to a hospital under the physician's care.
The lawsuit claims that the physician failed to diagnose and treat a large epidural abscess that was pressing against the man's spinal cord. As a result of that claimed negligence, the man sustained what is called 'severe and permanent' physical and mental pain and suffering and 'permanent paralysis'. Furthermore, the complaint alleges that the doctor had the obligatory legal duty to provide reasonably prudent care and treatment as required under the minimally required standards of care recognized and practiced by his peers.
It's alleged that he breached that standard of care. The couple is seeking lost income and compensatory damages with interest and costs. Damages will include out-of-pocket expenses, pain and suffering, loss of life's pleasures, lost earning capacity and the cost of future medical procedures and treatment.
Under Maryland law and elsewhere, a claim will generally exist if there was a failure to diagnose and treat a large, abnormal mass that was reasonably apparent from normal medical testing and diagnostic procedures. This would be especially true in the case of a large mass pressing against the spinal cord, which should not be extremely difficult to locate given the patient's complaints and symptoms. If the failure to diagnose the abscess substantially caused the man to suffer permanent paralysis, the award of damages could be substantial. However, legally required proof of causation would usually have to be proved by the testimony of a medical expert.