• Delayed Diagnosis Could Be Grounds for Medical Malpractice

    When most people hear “medical malpractice,” there is an image of a doctor acting negligently or maliciously. However, a common ground for a medical malpractice lawsuit is a physician or doctor’s failure to diagnose a medical condition, with misdiagnosis or delayed diagnosis closely related. Of course, not every mistake in diagnosis constitutes as medical malpractice.

    When identifying risk factors and symptoms of medical conditions, there are bound to be some mistakes made. These can include:

    • Delayed Diagnosis. In the event that a medical professional takes longer to diagnose symptoms as the proper medical condition, it is considered a delayed diagnosis and can lead to serious harm to a patient.
    • Misdiagnosis. While this can be considered a failure to diagnose, it specifically includes when a doctor believes the patient has one medical condition when they have a different condition altogether.
    • Failure to Diagnose. In this scenario, a doctor does not see the connection between symptoms and the correct medical condition with no treatment being given, which is the major difference between failure to diagnose and a misdiagnosis.

    Delayed Diagnosis as Medical Malpractice

    When a diagnosis is not given right away, it doesn’t mean there is a case for medical malpractice. Instead, there must be a violation of their standard of medical care. Examples of this include:

    • Abnormal hormone or other levels during routine bloodwork does not prompt further investigation into the patient’s medical state.
    • The physician failed to conduct tests or ask questions to get to a diagnosis that another reasonable physician of the same education and experience would have done.
    • Losing, confusing or improperly conducting lab work that would have given a proper diagnosis of the condition.
    • Reported signs and symptoms are brushed off by the medical professional when a patient brings them up and they are attributed to a lesser illness.
    • Failure to refer to a specialist when it was clear the patient needed to refer to a specialist about their condition.

    If there was a delay in diagnosis but it did not lead to harm, there is not a case for medical malpractice. For instance, if lab work is lost but the treatment plan was not affected by the delay, malpractice did not occur. However, if lab work that showed a patient had cancer was delayed or misplaced, it would impact how quickly and effectively the treatment would be administered. If you or a loved one has been harmed due to negligence in diagnosis by a medical professional, contact us today for a free consultation.

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