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Implications Of Overdiagnosis In Florida Medical Malpractice Cases


Even without a medical degree, you know that misdiagnosis through mistakes or delays can lead to serious patient harm. However, there is another aspect of diagnosis errors that you might not expect: Overdiagnosis, which the American Journal of Epidemiology defines as identifying a medical condition that would not otherwise go on to cause patient symptoms, suffering, or death. Part of the proper diagnosis process is being able to distinguish between what is important for patient care from what is unnecessary.

In the sense that overdiagnosis could lead the patient to undergo pointless, painful, and costly medical treatment, it may form the basis for a medical malpractice action under Florida law. You should consult with a Miami misdiagnosis lawyer about overdiagnosis, as the relevant concepts are complicated and these cases can be difficult to prove. An overview is helpful for covering the main points. 

Adverse Consequences with Overdiagnosis 

It may be a specific type of diagnostic mistake, but the implications for a patient are similar when a physician overdiagnoses a medical condition. For instance:

  • Cancers are among the most frequently overdiagnosed conditions, specifically lung cancer. Advancements in medical technology are able to pinpoint cancerous cells, but not all are malignant. A patient could undergo invasive surgery to remove a benign tumor that did not pose a risk.
  • Overdiagnosis could also mask a condition you DO have or delay diagnosis, meaning you do not get the treatment you need in a timely manner.
  • Physicians get paid based upon providing care related to a diagnosed condition, so you could be paying a significant amount for treatment that you do not need – or might not need until a future date. 

Common Overdiagnosis Scenarios 

Medical professionals stress that overdiagnosis is distinct from taking action on false-positive test results. The primary driver of too much diagnosis is too little time. Physicians see dozens of patients per day, so they may not be able to thoroughly assess every patient. Overdiagnosis may also be the result of the failure to order tests as appropriate for patient symptoms, as well as not following up when initial tests indicate the possibility of a medical condition.

Aside from cancers, there are certain medical conditions that are prone to overdiagnosis, including:

  • Alzheimer’s disease, especially when a physician overlooks the potential for other forms of dementia among older adults
  • Irritable bowel syndrome, often mistaken for Crohn’s disease
  • Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), which could actually be some other behavioral issue common among children – one that would likely not require harsh prescription medications carrying multiple side effects 

A Florida Misdiagnosis Attorney Can Explain Legal Remedies 

A summary of the relevant points is useful, but you can see how overdiagnosis is a complex claim in the already-complicated world of medical malpractice. If you have concerns about overdiagnosis, please contact Freidin Brown, P.A. to set up a free consultation at our offices in Miami or Fort Myers, FL. We can provide additional details and describe the legal standard for a med mal claim after we review your unique circumstances.



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