Delayed diagnosis is a type of medical malpractice wherein a doctor or physician fails to properly diagnose a patient at an early stage when it was possible to do so. The patient might then be finally diagnosed with the condition, but by then the patient may have suffered additional injuries or complications.

In such cases, the doctor’s failure to diagnose may not have caused the person’s injuries or illness; however, a proper diagnosis could have saved the patient from additional injury or from advancement of a disease to a further stage.

Delayed diagnosis can be considered part of overall medical misdiagnosis. In a typical misdiagnosis, the physician may have identified something wrong in a patient. However, their diagnosis may have been wrong- for instance, they may have diagnosed the wrong condition, or they may have diagnosed the wrong part of the body. In comparison, delayed diagnosis is typically based on the doctor missing a diagnosis that they should have been able to detect.

Who Can be Held Liable for Delayed Diagnosis Malpractice?

In many cases, the diagnosing physician can be held liable for injuries or losses resulting from delayed diagnosis. Here, it is necessary to show that: the physician had a clear patient-doctor relationship with the patient; the doctor was negligent in their actions; and that the doctor’s negligence caused injury to the patient. With regards to negligence, liability will usually be found if it can be shown that a reasonable doctor would have made a diagnosis sooner.

Also, some delayed diagnosis incidents can be influenced by faulty or defective medical equipment. In such instances, it is possible for the manufacturer of such equipment to be held liable under a product defect theory.

What are the Legal Consequences for a Delayed Diagnosis?

Delayed diagnosis lawsuits will typically result in a monetary damages award for the injured party. The award can compensate the plaintiff for losses such as medical bills, hospital expenses, costs of additional treatment, medicine expenses, and other losses such as lost work wages. In cases where wrongful death is an issue, survivors of the plaintiff may also be entitled to damages. 

In lawsuits involving a product defect, the product will likely be recalled, and a class action lawsuit can sometimes result. For cases where there are widespread health or safety issues in a hospital organization, the hospital may be required to change their practices and policies, including termination of negligent employees.

Do I Need a Lawyer for Assistance with a Delayed Diagnosis Malpractice Claim?

Delayed diagnosis lawsuits can be complex and often require the help of an attorney. You may need to hire a personal injury lawyer in your area if you need assistance with a delayed diagnosis claim. Your attorney can provide you with guidance and legal representation for your case.