Failing to Diagnose or Delaying Treatment of a Medical Condition may be Malpractice

A patient goes to see a doctor because he is suffering from some unknown ailment and he believes that the doctor has the necessary skill and training to discover what is wrong and determine the most effective form of treatment. When the doctor is negligent and fails to diagnose the medical condition or improperly delays the appropriate treatment, the patient can suffer devastating harm, including the potential for a hastened death.

In order to bring a medical malpractice action against a doctor based on misdiagnosis or delayed diagnosis, it is necessary to prove the following:

  • There was an established doctor/patient relationship – a person who relied on medical advice provided during a cocktail party likely would not meet this burden, but most people who made an appointment and went to see the doctor during established business hours probably will satisfy this criterion.
  • The doctor did not carry out the process of making the diagnosis or ordering treatment with the same skill and competence of another doctor with the same level of training and knowledge. A doctor’s negligence is going to be determined by looking at what another doctor with a similar background would have done.
  • The negligence led to actual harm to the patient. Many mistakes do not have any quantifiable consequences, but when they do, the impact often is severe.

There are many ways in which a medical provider can make a misdiagnosis that leads to serious harm to the patient, including:

  • Making the wrong diagnosis – this occurs when the doctor determines that the patient is suffering from the wrong medical condition. A doctor may determine that a patient is suffering from heartburn when, in fact, he is having a heart attack.
  • Missing the diagnosis – a doctor may tell a patient that there is nothing wrong with him when there is a serious medical condition that threatens the health and wellbeing of the person.
  • Making a diagnosis too late – a patient may return to a doctor a number of times before the physician makes the correct diagnosis when another doctor exercising reasonable care would have made the diagnosis much sooner, preventing serious complications or a progression of the disease.
  • Failing to diagnose associated medical conditions – many times a diagnosis of one medical issue indicates that a second disease or condition likely is present. A doctor may diagnose one thing, but miss another.
  • Failing to diagnose a separate condition – when a patient goes to a doctor with multiple unrelated problems, a doctor may diagnose one properly, but miss another one completely.
  • Failing to detect complicating factors – a doctor may make the correct diagnosis, but fail to determine that the patient has other conditions or is taking certain medications that alter the form of the treatment.

When the diagnosis is made correctly, but the doctor delays ordering or starting treatment in a timely manner, the patient’s condition may deteriorate, leading to less chance of recovery or serious damage that leads to long-term struggles. It is important to consider what happened at each stage of the doctor’s treatment and oversight of the patient’s care in order to determine when the negligence occurred and the harm that it caused.

Peter Thompson & Associates Understands How to Pursue a Malpractice Case

A patient who relied on a doctor to make the right diagnosis faces a bleak reality when he discovers that the doctor’s negligence has led to serious harm. The skilled and dedicated medical malpractice attorneys at Peter Thompson & Associates know how to sift through the reams of documents in order to determine when the mistake was made and who was responsible. We will develop the legal strategy that works for you and your family. To schedule an initial consultation, please call us at 800.804.2004.

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