Delayed Diagnosis Lawsuit
Health care 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.
Patients who are not diagnosed within a timely manner may file a medical malpractice claim against their treating physician. If you are a victim of this kind of medical negligence, you can reach out to one of our personal injury attorneys at Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers 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 Is Considered a Delayed Diagnosis?
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, unnecessary physical pain, loss of physical ability, and other unfortunate consequences.
In worst cases, late diagnosis of a patient’s illness can lead to actual injury and even untimely death.
Delayed Diagnosis vs. Misdiagnosis
A late diagnosis and a misdiagnosis are not the same. When a patient is misdiagnosed, the medical provider fails to give a correct diagnosis. 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. In some cases, 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 negligence if the physician fails to provide the medical standard of care. Here are numerous scenarios that may count as medical malpractice in regards to late diagnosis by the physician:
- 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 promptly, 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 resulted in harm to 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.
Simply put, 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 indeed 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 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, like:
- The patient’s medical records were grossly incomplete or erroneous
- The diagnostic equipment was defective
- The technician mixed up the patient’s medical records with another patient
- The technician missed something in the test (e.g., X-ray, biopsy, etc.)
- The technician used an incorrect testing procedure
In cases like these, the doctor might not be liable for the delayed diagnosis. Instead, the fault may fall on whichever health care 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.
A medical malpractice attorney can help you recover compensation for things like:
- 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
- Medical bills 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
$500,000 Settlement; Delayed Diagnosis Malpractice; Cook County, Illinois
A restaurateur in his sixties brought this lawsuit for a delayed diagnosis and the pain and loss it caused. His jaw, cheek, and head began to bother him one day. He saw his primary physician to determine what was going on. That doctor ordered a CT scan, and the tests showed that a mass had formed near the patient’s tongue.
However, the physician did not do anything else. The problems persisted, so he went back to the doctors. They identified cancer and ordered chemotherapy.
Although the patient became cancer-free despite the delayed diagnosis, he still sued for the pain and expense related to the missed diagnosis. He recovered $500,000 in a settlement.
$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 amount of time.
Thus, the baby sustained life-altering developmental ailments. The family claimed various damages arose because of this negligence, 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 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 the 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, it is good to have a copy of your medical records to bring to every appointment.
If you lack communication between your providers, you can help fill in 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 can 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, and 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, it is crucial that you work with a law firm that specializes in handling these types of cases.
Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers, LLC, is a law firm with the best personal injury lawyers in Chicago, handling medical malpractice cases. All sensitive or confidential information you share with our experienced attorneys remains private through an attorney-client relationship.
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. An experienced attorney will provide a free consultation to discuss your potential delay in the diagnosis case.