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Failure to Diagnose Can Delay Vital Treatments and Hurt Patients

A worried patient waits in a hospital bed for results from his medical testsWhen someone has a serious medical condition, a failure or delay in getting the right diagnosis can result in lasting harm. When the failure or delay has been caused by the negligence of a doctor or another healthcare professional, it may be considered medical malpractice, and you can seek financial compensation for your injuries.

Here’s what you should know about failure to treat lawsuits, including how medical failures can happen, the potential consequences to patients, how you may recover financially, and how to get legal help if you’ve been hurt.

How Diagnosis Failures Can Happen

No doctor is perfect, and not every delayed or missed diagnosis is medical malpractice. However, all doctors (and other healthcare providers, even chiropractors) are expected to maintain a certain standard of care for patients. Keeping a standard of care usually means that the healthcare provider acted in a way consistent with how any other reasonable or prudent provider would have acted, given similar training and conditions. Failure to act in such a way may be negligence (and thereby considered malpractice), but only if it results in harm to a patient.

Some of the ways in which a doctor or healthcare provider could be negligent may include:

  • Failure to order the right tests. Under certain circumstances, the failure to perform a medical test that would diagnose a condition may be negligence, if that condition is left undiagnosed—and thereby untreated, causing harm—as a result.
  • Not diagnosing a disease in time. An undue delay in the diagnosis of certain aggressive or fast-acting diseases can cause serious or even irreparable harm. Cancers may metastasize, for example, or certain kinds of treatments that are only available early in the disease process may no longer be viable, prolonging the illness—and painful or difficult treatment—unnecessarily.
  • Not following through on diagnosis. Even if you come in with what you think is a relatively simple condition, your doctor should be examining all of the evidence available and ruling out all possible causes of your symptoms. This is called a “differential diagnosis” and is one of the physician’s most basic—and powerful—tools. Not performing or improperly performing a differential diagnosis could result in a much more serious condition being overlooked.

Every medical malpractice case is different, and each requires careful investigation of the facts to determine if your doctor or healthcare provider was negligent.

Proving Your Malpractice Claim

Once you and your attorney have determined that medical malpractice caused your injury, you’ll need to build a case together. Your legal team will look closely at the situation, including any medical records (especially electronic medical records) and other documents that support your case.

There are four key elements to any medical malpractice claim that need to be proven before the court, including:

  • You had a doctor-patient relationship. This means showing that you were under the professional care of the healthcare provider in question.
  • The doctor failed in his or her duty of care. When the healthcare provider doesn’t uphold the standards of his or her profession, it may be a negligent breach of professional duty.
  • That failure caused you real harm. The doctor’s negligence must have been the direct cause of your injury.
  • There are damages that can be recovered. There must be something tangible for which you can be financially compensated, such as medical bills, physical therapy or rehabilitation, and other expenses.

You may also be able to pursue compensation for other, less-tangible costs of your injury, such as loss of enjoyment, pain and suffering, and more. However, Texas does limit this type of non-economic recovery to $250,000 per doctor or hospital, up to a maximum of $500,000. Your attorney can discuss the options available to you when it’s time to proceed with your case.

Get Legal Help Today

If you’ve suffered harm due to the negligence of a medical provider, Wayne Wright LLP would like to hear from you today. We’ve spent years standing up for the rights of those who have been injured by medical malpractice, and we’re here to help you get the justice you deserve in a court of law.

To arrange a free, no-obligation consultation with an experienced legal professional at Wayne Wright LLP, call us by phone, use our contact form to send an email, or click the live chat box on this page right now.