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Doctors must be careful when diagnosing conditions

Lots of people from all walks of life rely on their physicians to give them correct advice about their medical conditions and to prescribe the proper course of treatment for them.

Sometimes, Tampa, Florida residents and their families can rightly be said to entrust their lives to their doctors, as their mistaken diagnoses, and the improper or ineffective treatment that flows from such errors, can literally lead to the patient's premature or even unnecessary death.

While the practice of medicine is even today still a matter of educated guesswork to some extent, doctors in Florida must be extremely careful when diagnosing their patients' conditions. There is in fact a set process, called a differential diagnosis, that a physician is expected to follow when assessing their patients.

To summarize it, after a doctor does an initial evaluation of the patient, he must list out all possible diagnoses that could explain the patient's symptoms. He has some discretion as to what order he puts these diagnoses in, although that will depend on how likely he estimates each diagnosis to be.

He then must go down his list and rule out each diagnosis by performing additional tests and evaluations as necessary. He does so until he comes to the correct diagnosis.

A doctor is arguably negligent if the patient's true diagnosis does not appear on the doctor's list at all or if, though appearing on the list, the doctor fails to rule it out as a possibility. In such cases, if the misdiagnosis caused the death of a patient, then the family may be able to file a wrongful death lawsuit in order to obtain compensation for their losses.

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