What is Misdiagnosis or Delayed Diagnosis?

Misdiagnosis results in as many as 80,000 deaths annually and billions of dollars of unnecessary medical costs. Misdiagnosis or delayed diagnosis can cause lifelong disability or even be fatal. You or your loved one can suffer some serious harm due to improper treatment or required treatment is not provided at the proper time. This can cause you economic and non-economic damages like unnecessary medication or medical treatment causing expense and possible harm, or even surgeries that you would not have needed, which in turn worsen your medical condition. 

There are various causes for diagnostic errors:

  • Healthcare professionals practicing in areas outside of their expertise
  • Failure to diagnose related or unrelated disease with the primary disease
  • Failure to seek opinions from specialists that the diagnosis is correct
  • Inappropriate ordering of diagnostic tests 
  • Failure to test for possible conditions
  • Delay in diagnosis or treatment 
  • Failure to act on the results of tests or findings
  • Similar symptoms to other medical conditions

Can you sue a doctor for (failure to diagnose) misdiagnosis or delayed diagnosis?

Misdiagnosis or delay in diagnosis is a common cause for claims in medical malpractice. Even highly skilled doctors may sometimes err in identifying the real cause of a patient’s illness. 

Not all diagnostic errors are caused by medical negligence or lack of reasonable care. Sometimes, adverse events occur due to the complex nature of the case, even though the doctor acted competently. 

You may have a viable case against the practitioner if you can prove that proper standard of care was violated. If the practitioner did any of the following things, you may have a basis for a medical malpractice claim:

 1. did not take enough time to examine the symptoms,

2.  failed to provide the correct diagnosis in the differential diagnosis list that similar specialty doctors would have, 

3. did not order appropriate tests or did not refer you to a specialist, 

4. provided treatment that made your condition worse or caused death

Cancer misdiagnosis

Cancer is the most commonly misdiagnosed disease. This is because some cancers are harder to spot and are rare. Sometimes a doctor can underestimate the seriousness of your condition, and may cause it to spread. In a case like that, delayed diagnosis plays a crucial role. The disease may advance, causing the patient to undergo aggressive treatment, like removing an organ. In some cases, death may occur. This can be devastating for you or your family members, leaving you with a lifelong disability. It is not always possible to increase the survival rate even if the cancer is screened or diagnosed early but delayed diagnosis due to negligence can often lead to physical, emotional, and economic damages to the patient. In these cases, it is very important to keep all medical records with you along with all the pathology lab reports in order to file a claim for cancer misdiagnosis or delayed diagnosis. If there is any evidence that a person’s suffering was preventable or unnecessary, a lawsuit can hold the doctor accountable for the injury they caused the patient. 

Misdiagnosis or Delayed Diagnosis Lawsuit 

Lawsuits for misdiagnosis or delayed diagnosis are challenging because it is hard to provide evidence that error in diagnosis occurred and that the error was a deviation from standard medical practice. Many medical misdiagnosis lawsuits are lost because the plaintiff did not suffer  severe injuries as a result of the misdiagnosis, often because the correct diagnosis was made shortly after.. One of the most important points to consider is: would another doctor of similar skills and under similar circumstances be able to correctly diagnose the patient and prevent unnecessary suffering. Medical malpractice cases are complex, so it is essential to consult a lawyer to advise you on your legal rights.