Should doctors use computer programs to diagnose health problems?

As we have mentioned before on our Joliet medical malpractice law blog, it is important that doctors diagnose patients’ conditions as accurately and quickly as possible so that patients can begin receiving the medical treatment they need before their conditions worsen or become deadly. Infections, brain injuries, heart problems and cancer are serious medical conditions that could cause permanent or fatal injuries when doctors fail to diagnose the conditions.

But what causes doctors to make a wrong diagnosis? Do patients always have a right to seek compensation for their additional pain and suffering when doctors fail to accurately diagnose their health problems? Are there certain measures doctors can take to avoid making a wrong diagnosis or to avoid missing warning signs that could indicate when a patient is suffering from a serious condition?

It may certainly be frustrating when patients are sent from one doctor to another to have their symptoms examined without receiving a diagnosis. Unfortunately, sometimes patients do suffer from conditions the medical community knows little about. In these cases, a medical malpractice claim might not be warranted. But when a doctor’s negligence prevents him or her from making a diagnosis that most doctors would have been able to make, a medical malpractice claim may be warranted.

To prevent patients from having to suffer from undiagnosed conditions, doctors need to make sure they do not overlook any symptoms that might be considered warning signs, and they also need to make sure that they know when it is necessary to perform medical tests and other exams in order to properly rule out conditions. For decades, computer programs have also helped medical professionals diagnose complex health conditions and problems. And researchers continue to focus on improving the accuracy of these programs.

Computer programs have been helpful when it comes to diagnosing complex health issues, but doctors still have a responsibility to rely on their own skills, knowledge and experience to make accurate diagnoses as well. Computers cannot use experience and intuition like humans can when treating patients.

One doctor who specializes in diagnosing complex health problems suggested that relying too heavily on computer programs could lead to poor patient care. He said that doctors must continue to work on their abilities to diagnose complex problems in order to improve medical care and patient safety.

Source: The New York Times, “For second opinion, consult a computer?” Katie Hafner, Dec. 3, 2012

  • Our firm provides counsel to Illinois patients and their families who have been harmed by medical malpractice, including a wrong diagnosis or a failure to diagnose. To learn more about our firm and practice, please visit our Will County medical malpractice page.

Failure to Diagnose


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At Cirignani Heller & Harman, LLP, we represent Illinois clients in Chicago and throughout Cook County, including the cities of Cicero, Elgin, Schaumburg, Oak Park, Maywood, Berwyn, Elmhurst, Evanston, Skokie, Des Plaines, Mount Prospect, Arlington Heights, Palatine and Hoffman Estates. We also help clients in DuPage County, Kane County, Lake County, McHenry County, Will County and Winnebago County. If you have been the victim of medical malpractice in Illinois, CHH Law is the law firm with attorneys that can help.

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