When Is Delayed Diagnosis Considered Medical Malpractice?
Doctors are required to complete rigorous degree programs and training before becoming licensed physicians. They learn about the signs and symptoms of countless medical conditions so they can diagnose these conditions and provide the necessary treatment. However, doctors are not always able to pinpoint the exact cause of a person’s health concerns. It may take dozens of diagnostic tests and procedures before the person has an accurate diagnosis. In some cases, doctors and specialists are not able to determine the cause of a patient’s symptoms. While not every diagnostic mistake is the result of negligence, there are some situations in which a doctor’s failure to make a timely and accurate diagnosis is considered medical malpractice.
Doctors Have a Duty to Provide Reasonably Skilled Medical Care
Doctors and other medical professionals have a legal obligation to provide reasonably proficient medical treatment. They are not expected to be perfect, but they are expected to be competent. The question of whether or not a diagnostic mistake is flagrant enough to be considered malpractice is often very difficult to answer. Medical malpractice attorneys have a variety of tools and resources at their disposal that are used to investigate doctors’ actions and inaction and determine if malpractice occurred. To win a medical malpractice lawsuit, a medical malpractice attorney must prove that:
- A doctor-patient relationship was established.
- The doctor provided treatment that did not meet the medical standard of care
- The doctor’s failure to provide quality care caused the patient harm
- The patient suffered damages as a result of this harm
The standard of medical care is a hypothetical measuring stick used to determine if a doctor’s actions deviated from what a typical doctor of similar status would have done under similar circumstances. Expert testimony from respected medical professionals is often used during a medical malpractice lawsuit to shed light on the reasonableness of a doctor’s actions.
Examples of Doctor Negligence That May Lead to a Delayed Diagnosis
A prompt and accurate diagnosis is crucial to a patient’s treatment. Many health conditions get progressively worse with time. If a doctor fails to notice symptoms of conditions such as heart disease, cancer, or infection, the patient may suffer irreparable, preventable harm. Delayed or incorrect diagnoses may be the result of medical mistakes such as:
- Failure to gather and take into account the patient’s full medical history
- Failure to order the appropriate medical tests
- Overlooking the patient’s symptoms or test results
- Misinterpreting test results
- Failure to refer patients to the appropriate specialists
Contact an Elmhurst Medical Malpractice Lawyer
If you or a loved one have suffered harm because of a delayed diagnosis or another diagnostic mistake, Schwartz Injury Law can help you determine if you or your loved one were the victim of medical malpractice. If malpractice is discovered, we will help you pursue financial compensation for your damages. Call us at 630-415-0500 today and schedule a free consultation with one of our accomplished Illinois medical malpractice attorneys.