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What to Do When a Delayed Diagnosis Causes Irreversible Harm

Published on May 30, 2019 at 1:44 pm in Medical Malpractice.

Stethoscope and pen on chart

When you’re dealing with a medical problem and don’t know how to take care of it, you expect your doctor to examine you, assess your symptoms, provide a diagnosis, and give you treatment options. Unfortunately, not all doctors practice medicine according to the required standard of care. When a negligent physician delays your diagnosis and you sustain permanent injuries, you can hold them accountable and seek compensation in order to live as high a quality of life as possible.

Learning your condition could have been diagnosed sooner to prevent injuries can be devastating, especially when the harm is irreversible. When negligence is attached to the delayed diagnosis, medical malpractice can be proven. In order to start building a strong claim against the physician who wronged you, you’ll want to understand what a delayed diagnosis is, what the possible consequences are, and how a lawyer can help you.

What Is a Delayed Diagnosis?

People sometimes think a misdiagnosis and a delayed diagnosis are the same. This is not the case. While a misdiagnosis refers to an instance where a doctor made an incorrect diagnosis, a delayed diagnosis occurs when a patient’s health condition or ailment is not diagnosed within a reasonable amount of time. As a result, their condition is likely to worsen. A delayed diagnosis can occur in the following situations:

  • A patient reported certain symptoms, but a doctor dismissed them
  • A patient’s test results were lost or incorrectly collected
  • A doctor notices something is wrong but does not order further tests
  • A doctor fails to refer a patient to a specialist, even when it’s clear they should

When a diagnosis is delayed, the patient may be left to deal with the consequences. While some delayed diagnosis won’t do much harm, others can result in lifelong conditions or impairments. If, for example, a heart condition is left undiagnosed because a doctor neglected to call for the necessary procedures, a person could have to undergo surgery, instead of managing their condition in an easier way. Surgery comes with its own risks, and the recovery process can be lengthy. Delaying the diagnosis of a stroke could lead to brain damage or death.

Proving Your Diagnosis Was Delayed with a Lawyer

When you’ve been irreversibly harmed, the best thing you can do is take legal action to receive the compensation you need to get your life back in order. Filing a medical malpractice claim is the first step. In order to prove you suffered as a result of a delayed diagnosis, there are four elements your claim will need to support. Having an understanding of these prior to having your lawyer present your claim can help you collect the evidence you’ll need to prove you were wronged.

  • Doctor-Patient Relationship. The easiest aspect to prove when dealing with a delayed diagnosis claim is the doctor-patient relationship. When you agree to be seen by a doctor and they provide you with medical care, a doctor-patient relationship is formed. This is easily proven with a quick examination of your medical records.
  • Failure to Abide by the Standard of Care. The standard of care refers to how doctors are supposed to care for their patients. If, during your claim’s investigation, it’s discovered the majority of doctors would have acted differently when presented with your case, your physician may have breached the standard of care.
  • Negligence Caused Harm. The third element involves proving the delayed diagnosis caused your injuries. If, for example, you did not receive a cancer diagnosis when you should have and the cancer spreads to the point where treatment will not be as effective, the doctor’s delayed diagnosis worsened your condition.
  • The Injuries Resulted in Specific Damages. After you’ve proven you had a relationship with the doctor, they failed to meet the established standard of care, and their negligence injured you, your lawyer will connect your injuries to the damages you incurred. The damages are generally financial or emotional.

If your medical malpractice claim involves a delayed diagnosis, it can be challenging to seek the compensation you deserve. The negligent doctor could try to attribute your current condition to a different ailment, not the one they didn’t diagnosis properly. To succeed, you’ll need a strong lawyer by your side. At Shrager & Sachs, we have experience building strong cases for med mal victims, and we’ll do the same for you.

You claim could likely be under the restrictions of a statute of limitations. As such, it’s crucial to take action as soon as possible, so you don’t miss your chance to collect a monetary award for your losses. To learn more about how the lawyers at Shrager & Sachs can help you, schedule a free case evaluation with us today.

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