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Is Overdiagnosis Considered Medical Malpractice in Ohio?

Mellino Law Firm

When physicians overdiagnose a patient, the consequences can be devastating. This form of negligence is quite common. In fact, says surgeon and breast cancer specialist Laura J. Esserman, urologist Ian M. Thompson Jr., and esophageal cancer specialist Brian Reid in a 2013 Journal of American Medicine article, “Physicians, patients, and the general public must recognize that overdiagnosis is common and occurs more frequently with cancer screening.”

December 9, 2013, Medscape reported that, in a study of more than 53,000 people, “low-dose computed tomography (LDCT) results in an approximately 18% overdiagnosis of lung cancer.”

Overdiagnosis could cause a patient to undergo unnecessary, costly treatments for a condition that he or she doesn’t even have. Imagine enduring chemotherapy only to find out that your tumor was benign. Not only does chemotherapy cause nausea, fatigue, and hair loss, it compromises your immune system, leaving you susceptible to a host of diseases.

Overdiagnosis could also delay treatment for a condition you do have.

A doctor could misdiagnose a condition for many reasons. For instance, he or she may not take the time to assess the patient thoroughly and order appropriate diagnostic tests.

As Best Doctors Chairman and Chief Executive Officer David Seligman recently stated, “[D]octors today are increasingly time-strapped. Many of them are seeing up to 30 patients a day. They’re working in an overburdened health system with fractured or incomplete medical records. All of these things too often directly impact health outcomes – no matter how dedicated or skilled the physician may be.”

Also, some conditions have a tendency to be overdiagnosed. They include:

  • Alzheimer’s disease – alternative forms of dementia are often overlooked in the elderly population;
  • attention deficit hyperactivity disorder – other behavioral issues are often ignored and unnecessary medication is prescribed;
  • irritable bowel syndrome – similar conditions include Celiac disease and Crohn’s disease; and
  • Lyme disease – symptoms are non-specific, so Lyme disease tends to be a default diagnosis.

If it can be proven that your healthcare team was negligent by failing to treat a condition or overtreating a condition you don’t have, you may be able to recover damages for your medical expenses, pain and suffering, and lost wages in a medical malpractice claim.

If you have questions about your doctor’s diagnosis, attorney Chris Mellino welcomes you to contact our Cleveland office for a free consultation. You may also download or request our free guide on how to file a medical malpractice claim in Ohio.

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