Can I Sue for a Delayed Diagnoses?

There are a number of medical conditions that can be effectively treated if they are caught early. This is one of the main reasons why preventative medicine is so important, and why it can save people’s lives.

For example, if a woman is caught with breast cancer early on, her chances of beating and surviving the cancer are much higher than if the disease is discovered at a late stage.

Usually, patients visit their doctors for one of two reasons: 1) for a standard health checkup, or 2) to diagnose them because something is wrong. In either scenario, it’s critically important that the doctor does their job properly.

The doctor must ask the right questions, order the necessary and relevant tests, and refer the patient to a specialist when appropriate.

Sometimes a busy or careless doctor will “play down” the patient’s concerns. Or, they will fail to make an accurate assessment of the patient’s health. For example, let’s say a woman was experiencing the following symptoms, so she decided to see her doctor. She complained of these symptoms, and she was getting concerned:

  • A lump inside her breast
  • Swollen breasts
  • Her breasts changed shape
  • A new, persistent pain on one part of her breast

While these are not necessarily telltale signs of breast cancer, they could be. If the woman’s doctor merely dismissed these warning signs as normal hormonal changes and failed to consider breast cancer, this simple mistake could lead to a preventable death.

When it comes to any form of cancer, it’s much better to catch it in the early stages when it can still be treated. If a doctor does not diagnose a disease, such as cancer in a timely manner, the disease can spread throughout the body to the point that the patient’s life cannot be saved.

Understanding Delayed Diagnoses

When people think of medical malpractice, they often think of surgical errors where a surgeon accidentally cuts the wrong organ, or where a doctor causes paralysis during back surgery. But, a lot of people don’t realize that many medical malpractice cases are based on a delayed diagnoses, meaning, the diagnoses was made too late.

With a delayed diagnoses case, the doctor did not cause the medical condition or disease. However, if the doctor would have caught it earlier, and when they had the chance, the patient would have had a better outcome.

Often, delayed diagnoses cases result in tragic, preventable deaths, especially in regards to cancer and heart disease. In order to have grounds for a delayed diagnoses case, the plaintiff must prove:

  • A doctor-patient relationship existed
  • The doctor was negligent
  • The doctor’s negligence directly resulted in patient injury

Often, delayed diagnoses cases are filed by surviving family members after their loved one passed away in what could have been a preventable death, but they can be filed by the patient as well.

If you, or a loved one has suffered because a doctor failed to diagnose a condition in a timely manner, we urge you to contact our firm to speak with a Columbia medical malpractice attorney.

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