Healthcare professionals are expected to diagnose a patient’s condition and deliver due medical care within a reasonable time. If a doctor fails to make a timely diagnosis, it could worsen a patient’s condition or, in worst-case scenarios, even cause death.
- What Are Considered Delayed Diagnoses?
- When Delayed Diagnosis Is Medical Malpractice
- Proving a Medical Malpractice Claim
- Proving Harm in a Delayed Diagnosis Case
- Delayed Diagnosis Malpractice Cases
- Avoiding Late Diagnosis
- Hire an Experienced Medical Malpractice Attorney for Your Delayed Diagnosis Civil Lawsuit
Patients not diagnosed promptly may file a medical malpractice claim against their treating physician. If you are a victim of medical negligence, you can reach out to one of our personal injury attorneys at Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers, LLC to discuss your legal options.
Our experienced personal injury attorneys can help you determine if you have a case and take the necessary steps to receive compensation.
Call our Chicago medical malpractice lawyers at (888) 424-5757 or use this form for a free evaluation. All sensitive or confidential information you share with our experienced attorneys remains private through an attorney-client relationship.
What Are Considered Delayed Diagnoses?
If your doctor failed to diagnose your condition or ailment within a reasonable time, it could be considered a delayed diagnosis.
A delayed diagnosis refers to delayed treatment, leading to your condition becoming more severe. In addition, prolonged treatment may come with higher medical expenses, lost wages, and unnecessary physical pain, loss of physical ability, and other unfortunate consequences.
In worst cases, delayed diagnoses could lead to actual injury and even untimely death.
Delayed Diagnosis vs. Misdiagnosis
A late diagnosis and misdiagnosis are different. When a patient is misdiagnosed, the medical provider fails to diagnose correctly. For example, a patient with lung cancer may be misdiagnosed with tuberculosis instead of the actual illness.
On the other hand, delayed diagnosis is when a patient seeks medical care, but the doctor fails to detect the patient’s illness. Sometimes, a patient may already have skin cancer, but their physician fails to spot the signs and symptoms, allowing the disease to progress.
When Delayed Diagnosis Is Medical Malpractice
Not all cases of late diagnosis count as medical malpractice. For example, if a patient does not seek medical attention, their physician may not be liable for diagnostic errors.
Instances where a patient withholds relevant information from the doctor, may also not count as medical malpractice. For example, if a patient deliberately lies to their doctor about their signs and symptoms, the doctor may not be liable for providing a wrong diagnosis.
A late diagnosis only counts as medical malpractice if the physician fails to provide the medical standard of care. Here are numerous scenarios that may count as medical malpractice regarding late diagnosis by the physician:
- Healthcare professional does not take a complete medical history
- Dismisses the patient’s symptoms as signs of a less severe condition
- Notices abnormal test results but does not order further testing
- Chooses not to refer the patient to a specialist despite all the signs pointing them to do so
- Does not analyze the patient’s medical records thoroughly
- Under the influence of a substance during the medical appointment, impairing their ability to provide sound medical advice
A competent doctor should be able to make a proper diagnosis in a timely manner and early enough to deliver treatment on time and prevent the condition from becoming worse.
Proving a Medical Malpractice Claim
Another essential factor of a medical malpractice claim is proving that the late diagnosis harmed the patient.
For example, if a physician fails to detect a patient’s cancer early despite symptoms being present,–and cancer spreads due to the physician’s negligence–then it is a case of a delayed cancer diagnosis.
Medical malpractice only occurs when the patient experiences pain and suffering that would have otherwise not happened if the doctor had made a timely diagnosis in the first place.
Patients and medical malpractice lawyers must also prove:
- The doctor-patient relationship existed
- The doctor violated the standard of care owed to the patient
- The doctor’s medical negligence resulted in actual harm to the patient
Most medical malpractice lawsuits depend on the last two elements. Your medical malpractice lawyer will help you determine if the doctor was negligent and if their actions (or inaction) caused your medical condition to worsen.
The nature of medicine is often uncertain. Upon the initial examination of a patient, a doctor will perform a differential diagnosis, starting by making a list of diagnoses ordered by probability. The doctor will then make further observations and diagnostic tests until only one diagnosis remains on the list, removing and adding possible illnesses as the investigation progresses.
In a medical malpractice lawsuit based on diagnostic error, a patient will also need to prove:
- The doctor failed to include the correct diagnosis on the list when a reasonably competent doctor under a similar specialty would have
- The doctor noted the correct diagnosis but did not order proper tests or consult specialists to determine the feasibility of the diagnosis
Other Potential Errors
In some cases, a physician fails to provide an accurate diagnosis due to a human error, such as:
- The patient’s medical records were grossly incomplete or erroneous
- The defective diagnostic equipment created a differential diagnosis
- The technician mixed up the patient’s medical records or test results with another patient
- The technician missed medical problems in the test (e.g., X-ray, biopsy, etc, misdiagnosing the patient’s injury or medical conditions)
- The technician used an incorrect testing procedure for the patient’s medical condition
In such cases, the doctor might not be liable for delayed diagnoses. Instead, the fault may fall on whichever healthcare professional caused or contributed to the diagnostic errors.
Proving Harm in a Delayed Diagnosis Case
If you want to sue your doctor for medical malpractice on the grounds of late diagnosis, you need to prove that their negligence caused harm to you–and not necessarily just physical.
For example, a delayed cancer diagnosis never identified medical conditions like prostate cancer, lung cancer, or a medical emergency. In these cases, the doctor never ordered a healing treatment, like chemotherapy or surgical procedure, and the person’s condition worsened.
A medical malpractice attorney can help you recover compensation for the delayed diagnoses, including:
- Past and current medical bills
- Lost wages while recovering from an injury or illness
- Pain and suffering caused by the illness’ progression
- Loss of physical ability or brain function
- Ongoing treatment or rehabilitation to fully recover
- Additional medical expenses from extended treatment
- Emotional distress
If the patient died due to their physician’s negligence, the family might have a case for wrongful death and medical malpractice.
Delayed Diagnosis Malpractice Cases
$1,850,000 Settlement; Delayed Diagnosis Malpractice; Cook County, Illinois
This delayed diagnosis dispute involved a child. The boy had argininosuccinic aciduria lyase deficiency, which is treatable when spotted and addressed. Allegedly, doctors tested the child for it, but the results were not analyzed and processed within a reasonable time.
Thus, the baby sustained life-altering developmental ailments. The family claimed various damages arose because of this missed diagnosis, including pain, long-term suffering, lost income, lost quality of life, and related losses.
The child’s doctors and the hospital said the problem came from a congenital disease. However, the defendants settled the case for $1.85 million.
$5,000,000 Settlement; Delayed Diagnosis Medical Malpractice; Cook County, Illinois
In this medical malpractice lawsuit, the victim was a woman in her late twenties. She had lupus. She began to experience confusion, headaches, and thrombotic thrombocytopenic purpura with hemolytic uremic syndrome.
These issues are life-threatening in lupus patients. She went to a Chicago hospital for treatment. However, the doctor did not do any neurological testing as he should have with a patient of her medical background. The physician merely screened her and discharged her. The woman was still in pain and went to another hospital the following day.
That facility adequately diagnosed and treated her, but it was too late. She died because of the delayed diagnosis and treatment. Lawyers for the woman’s estate brought a wrongful death action for this malpractice. The plaintiffs recovered $5 million in the settlement.
Avoiding Late Diagnosis
Although it is not your responsibility as a patient, it helps to be proactive in managing your health records. If you have more than one doctor, bringing a copy of your medical records to every appointment is good.
If you lack communication with your providers, you can help inform doctors about your complete medical history.
Assuming that every health care provider you see is up to date with your records may be unsafe and may lead to late diagnosis or misdiagnosis.
Hire an Experienced Medical Malpractice Attorney for Your Delayed Diagnosis Civil Lawsuit
Doctors and other health care professionals must perform the care and procedures within the expected standards of care. Failure to do so can constitute medical malpractice.
If a doctor diagnoses your illness too late–or fails to diagnose your condition entirely, you may be able to hold them liable for medical negligence.
However, medical malpractice lawsuits are not always easy to resolve. Proving the doctor-patient relationship existed is the easiest part, but proving negligence is another story.
With that in mind, you must work with a law firm that handles these cases. Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers, LLC, has the best personal injury lawyers in Chicago, handling medical malpractice cases.
Call 888-424-5757 to schedule a free case evaluation, or use the contact form to find personal injury lawyers from our law office that can help you with your lawsuit. Our experienced attorney will provide a free consultation to discuss your potential delay in the diagnosis case.
- NIH – Challenges and Solutions for Late Diagnosis
- JHM – Diagnostic Errors More Prevalent Than Medication Mistakes