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What to Do When a Delayed Diagnosis Leads to Permanent Damage

Young male doctor radiologist working in the clinic

Medical malpractice can take many forms. While the prototypical malpractice claim involves a botched medical procedure, such as a surgery gone wrong, other types of negligent medical behavior can give rise to a malpractice claim. If you are misdiagnosed with the wrong condition, or if your physician otherwise fails to give you a diagnosis in time to treat a given condition, and a reasonable medical professional would have given a proper diagnosis, then the physician is liable for damages caused by the delay in accurate diagnosis and treatment. In many cases, failing to give a timely diagnosis can lead to serious, permanent damage. Keep reading for advice on how to bring a delayed diagnosis claim, and call a qualified medical expert with any additional questions.

What is a Delayed Diagnosis Claim?

Misdiagnosis and delayed diagnosis are related, but they are not exactly the same. Misdiagnosis refers to a doctor giving an incorrect diagnosis, while a delayed diagnosis claim involves a doctor failing to accurately diagnose a patient within a reasonable period of time. A delayed diagnosis could result from a doctor ignoring noticeable symptoms, failing to undertake the appropriate tests, a healthcare practice losing or misreading test results, or failing to refer a patient to an appropriate specialist for follow-up.

Even if a doctor finally gets the diagnosis right after several visits, it is very possible that irreparable damage has been done in the meantime. A delayed cancer diagnosis, for example, can give the cancer sufficient time to spread and become inoperable. Delaying a stroke diagnosis can lead to brain damage or even death. Delayed diagnosis can be just as dangerous as misdiagnosis, depending on the circumstances.

How to Prove a Delayed Diagnosis Claim

In order to recover based on malpractice allegations, a patient must generally establish three elements:

  • There was a doctor-patient relationship between the plaintiff and defendant;
  • The doctor was negligent — meaning that the doctor did not practice in a reasonably skillful and competent manner, or, stated differently, did not act as a reasonable physician would in the given circumstances;
  • The patient suffered actual injury as a result of the doctor’s negligence.

It is not sufficient to show that the doctor failed at first to diagnose the patient properly. The plaintiff must show that the doctor was not acting competently when they failed to diagnose the plaintiff.

Demonstrating medical negligence is a challenging prospect. You and your medical malpractice attorney will likely need to rely on testimony from a medical expert who can point to what the doctor did wrong and what they should have done, and show how that failure on the part of the defendant directly led to the patient’s injury. A medical malpractice attorney can help you build your case based on delayed diagnosis and recover for the harm you have suffered.

If you need a dedicated, experienced expert witness in a personal injury, medical malpractice, or product liability case nationwide, contact the offices of Neurosurgery Medlegal Services, LLC, at 866-659-8051.

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