Delayed Diagnosis: How to Prove a Doctor Is at Fault

October 26, 2016

When a patient comes to a physician for a medical diagnosis, they have the right to assume that their doctor will do everything they can, within reason, to identify their injury or illness. When a medical condition is not diagnosed right away, it can lead to serious health problems. Missed diagnosed injuries or delays in diagnosing an injury can cause the patient’s condition to worsen rapidly over time and untreated illnesses may cause premature death. By the time the condition is properly diagnosed, it may be too late and the patient may have suffered irreversible and permanent harm.The question becomes whether or not that delay in diagnosis was caused by some sort of professional negligence, and if it should have been preventable. If there is evidence that suggests the doctor made a preventable mistake and caused a delay in the diagnosis, a medical malpractice case may be warranted.

Key Evidence in a Delayed Diagnosis Case

To begin, it must be clear that a patient-physician relationship existed at the time the diagnosis was delayed. Did the doctor understand that the patient was relying on them for a diagnosis? Did the patient have reason to expect helpful treatment from the doctor? In most cases, the answer to both questions is yes, and the patient-physician relationship is established.

Secondly, and perhaps the most difficult to prove in a medical malpractice case, is showing that the doctor failed to follow the standard of care. No medical professional is perfect, and doctors aren’t expected to diagnose conditions that aren’t capable of being diagnosed based upon the information they had available or could have obtained from performing further testing. However, doctors are expected to make a timely diagnosis when they have sufficient information to do so or could have performed additional testing when it’s warranted to get additional information to help make the diagnosis. Delayed diagnosis cases are pursued when it can be proven that the doctor deviated from acceptable medical practices in some way, and this is the sole or partial cause of the delay.

Lastly, the delay needs to have resulted in the worsening of a condition, or the development of a new one. For example, if a patient has cancer, was not diagnosed timely, and a tumor grew considerably, decreasing or eliminating the patient’s chance of survival, it is clear that the delay has caused harm. Damages in delay diagnosis cases vary but are usually significant if the delay has caused the person to be significantly worse off or reduced their life expectancy.

Our Medical Malpractice Lawyer Can Sort Through the Details

Delayed diagnosis cases are complex but you deserve answers about whether your condition could have been diagnosed sooner and whether an earlier diagnosis would have made a difference in your condition. At Baldwin Matzus, LLC LLC, our Philadelphia personal injury attorney can take the stress off your shoulders by managing the most complicated parts of your case for you. Backed by 20+ years of legal and trial experience and rated 10/10 “Superb” by Avvo, Attorney Matzus is ready to fight for you.

Contact our firm to request your free case evaluation today.


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