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Delays in Medical Diagnosis

Diagnosis errors are the most common form of medical malpractice. When people hear of diagnosis errors, they commonly think of a misdiagnosis or failure to diagnose. But often the error comes from a delayed diagnosis. Had the proper diagnosis been made in a timely fashion, serious injury could have been avoided.

Doctors and hospitals now have more advanced diagnostic tools and tests at their disposal than ever before. They have the ability to identify a disease at its earliest stages and treat it before it has a chance to do any harm. These tools are available, but they must be used and utilized properly. Failure to do so in a timely manner can lead to disastrous consequences for the patient.

Not every disease can be identified before it causes harm, but many can. You do your part to protect your health by seeking medical care. Doctors and hospitals need to do their part by working to accurately and timely diagnose your condition according to the appropriate standard of medical care. When they don’t, doctors and hospitals can and should be held accountable for their negligent failings and the harm they have caused.

At Bertling Law Group, our attorneys have decades of experience in medical malpractice cases, representing not only injured plaintiffs but defending doctors and hospitals as well. As patient advocates, we know medical malpractice from the inside out. We know how the other side thinks, and we know how to get the right information to answer the questions surrounding what went wrong and who is responsible. If an unreasonable delay in a medical diagnosis caused harm to you or your family member, our lawyers will work to make it right by getting you maximum compensation for your injuries and helping to prevent future similar harm from happening to others.

For help with a malpractice claim involving a California doctor or hospital, a VA medical center or outpatient site, or a military hospital or clinic nationwide, call Bertling Law Group today at 844-295-7558. Your consultation is free, and there is no fee if we can’t recover for you.

How Do You Prove an Injury Was Caused by a Delayed Diagnosis?

In bringing a medical malpractice claim, the key elements to prove are the existence of a doctor/patient relationship, negligence on the part of the doctor, and patient harm caused by that negligence. These elements apply to a claim involving a delayed diagnosis as well.

Doctor/patient relationship

This element can usually be established fairly easily by demonstrating that the patient sought medical treatment from the doctor, even if only for one initial visit.

Negligence in a delayed diagnose

It’s not enough to show the doctor failed to make an accurate diagnosis the first time around; we must prove the doctor was not acting competently or not performing as a reasonable physician of the same education and training. We have to show that another doctor acting reasonably would have been able to make an accurate diagnosis in a timely manner in a similar set of circumstances. For example, negligence causing a delayed diagnosis could include:

  • Ignoring noticeable symptoms
  • Failing to order or perform appropriate tests
  • Losing or misreading test results
  • Failing to refer the case to a specialist for follow-up

Injury caused by negligence

This can require showing that a critical delay in treatment caused harm that otherwise could have been avoided. If the doctor eventually gets the right diagnosis, or the patient sees another doctor who makes a correct diagnosis, irreparable damage might or might not have already occurred. Some of the most common dangers of a delayed diagnosis include:

Cancer – With an early diagnosis, many cancers can be treated, cured or managed, but a delay in diagnosis can give the cancer time to metastasize, become inoperable, or become terminal.

Heart attacks – A heart attack can be prevented if signs of a heart condition or cardiac distress are diagnosed in time. Chest pain can be symptomatic of many different conditions. Doctors know this and need to take the time to rule out a heart attack before anything else.

Strokes – Strokes are a medical emergency; some medical professionals have even recommended that strokes be renamed brain attacks to get across the urgent nature of a prompt diagnosis. Early treatment can prevent or minimize brain damage. Delayed diagnosis can be fatal.

Deep vein thrombosis – These blood clots in the legs can break loose and travel throughout the body, which can lead to a life-threatening pulmonary embolism or ischemic stroke. DVTs are a common consequence of surgery that hospitals, doctors and nurses should be aware of and watch for during post-operative care.

Arterial blockages – Atherosclerosis, AKA coronary artery disease or blocked arteries, put a patient at risk of a deadly heart attack. Doctors have an arsenal of tests at their disposal to diagnose coronary artery disease and many ways to treat the condition through medications and medical procedures. A timely diagnosis can prevent serious complications or death.

Infections – An infection that is not timely diagnosed can spread or enter the bloodstream, turning a treatable wound into one requiring amputation of a limb or causing fatal septic shock.

Get Help After a Delayed Diagnosis Malpractice Injury

If you believe that you or your loved one was harmed because of a delayed diagnosis that resulted from medical negligence, we can help you get answers to your questions, find out what went wrong, and hold responsible parties accountable to you for the harm done. Call Bertling Law Group today at 844-295-7558. Your consultation is free, and there is no fee if we don’t recover for you.

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