In October 2011, Amanda Velasquez, a pregnant 20-year-old, walked to Woodhull Medical Centre to see her obstetrician. She was experiencing blurred vision and worried that she was losing her eyesight. Her obstetrician assured her that she had nothing to worry about, and she went home.

Unfortunately, Amanda’s symptoms of cloudy vision and pressure around her eyes didn’t go away, and she visited the hospital six more times with the same complaint, but her obstetrician chose to fixate on her pregnancy rather than check her eyes and told her that there was no problem at each visit.

Read more: Woodhull Medical Centre Pays $15 Million After Failure to Diagnose Makes Woman Blind

Failure to diagnose is a kind of diagnostic error that is caused by your doctor being negligent in treating you. If your doctor doesn’t take the necessary steps to determine what illness you have, then you are at risk of sustaining an injury or disability; in fact, some people have even lost their lives due to a doctor’s failure to diagnose. Ultimately, failure to diagnose leads to you receiving delayed or incorrect treatment, or no treatment at all.

Read more: What is Failure to Diagnose?

In 2007, Ed McMahon, a TV show host, suffered a fall at a Los Angeles home which resulted in a fractured neck. He went to Cedars-Sinai Medical Center the following morning for assessment. Doctors at the hospital did not take an X-ray and failed to diagnose his neck fracture. They discharged him without further investigation. 

When Ed continued to experience increasing pain and discomfort, he returned to the hospital. A full assessment was conducted, and it was revealed that he did, in fact, have a fractured neck. Ed underwent two spine surgeries to repair the damage, however, he later claimed that these two surgeries were both botched. He suffered great pain and discomfort for months as a result and indicated that he interrupted his activities of daily living and regular functioning. 

Read more: Failure to Diagnose Caused Ed McMahon Months of Pain

On the 11th of September, 2003, John Ritter, a well-known comedic actor on shows such as “Three’s Company” and “8 Simple Rules,” died as a result of an aortic dissection - also known as a tear in the inner layer of the aorta. This condition is fatal, as the aorta is the main blood vessel that transports blood away from your heart and to the rest of your body.

The signs and symptoms of aortic dissection and heart attack are very similar; thus doctors need to be stringent and follow all the necessary protocols to ensure that an accurate diagnosis is made.

Read more: Failure to Diagnose Caused Comedian, John Ritter’s Death

A doctor’s failure to diagnose occurs when they are negligent or fail to take the necessary steps to determine the nature of your illness, which then causes you harm. The reason for this harm is because a doctor’s failure to diagnose can lead to incorrect or delayed treatment being administered or worse, no treatment is administered at all.

There are several factors that contribute to failure to diagnose within the primary healthcare system, with some being more prevalent than others. Such diagnostic errors include:

Read more: Causes of Failure to Diagnose in Primary Care

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