A delayed diagnosis occurs when your doctor fails to identify the correct ailment and begin prompt treatment. In many cases, by the time a doctor makes the correct diagnosis, the condition will have worsened. This progression might result in difficult to treat symptoms, incurable conditions, or even death. If your condition worsened due to a delayed diagnosis, you may be able to file a malpractice claim. Call a New York delayed diagnosis lawyer from Buttafuoco & Associates for help: 1-800-NOW-HURT.
Common Instances of Delayed Diagnosis
Cancer patients are often the victims of delayed diagnosis. Doctors can delay a diagnosis by missing a suspicious shadow on an imaging film or failing to check a lump or spot on the skin. The earlier a doctor detects the cancer the better. If a doctor delays diagnosis, the mistake could result in:
- Cancer progression to a difficult or untreatable stage
- More expensive, more painful, more prolonged treatment
Delayed diagnoses can also worsen cardiovascular events; for example if a patient having a heart attack goes to the ER and the doctor diagnoses the symptoms as anxiety or indigestion, the patient could face severe complications or even die.
Delayed diagnosis can also occur with many other medical conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease and Lyme disease. For example, doctors might attribute Alzheimer’s symptoms to the normal aging process. Or doctors may not connect the seemingly random symptoms in a patient with Lyme disease until it is too late.
Establishing a Delayed Diagnosis
A situation must satisfy certain criteria to be a case of delayed diagnosis malpractice. Just because a doctor gives you a clean bill of health at one visit and discovers a serious disease on the next visit does not mean he missed the disease at the first visit. Some conditions can manifest quickly and without warning.
It is up to you to present proof that the doctor deviated from the standard of care (e.g., failed to give your case the attention it needed), such as failing to test for and identify your condition when it was possible to do so.
You must also prove that this failure caused you harm (e.g., cancer progressed from Stage 1 to Stage 4, delayed heart attack diagnosis caused irreversible heart damage). If you did not suffer any type of harm, you do not have a valid claim.
The evidence in these cases is more than just your medical records. You will need an expert medical witness to testify on your behalf. An expert medical witness is a medical professional who reviews your medical records and testifies as to what a “reasonable practitioner” (i.e., prudent and cautious doctor) would have done in that situation.
If the medical expert can look at your original test results or imaging reports and make the correct diagnosis at an earlier date than your doctor, you can use this fact as evidence in your claim of medical negligence.
Filing for Damages after a Delayed Diagnosis
For conditions that you can recover from such as pneumonia, your damages may extend to lost wages from time out of work, extra medical bills, and pain and suffering. For other fatal conditions such as advanced stage pancreatic cancer, surviving family members may be entitled to larger damages for loss of quality of life, lost earning capacity, loss of consortium, loss of support, loss of services, mental anguish, etc.
Proving a delayed diagnosis caused you avoidable harm or the loss of a loved one is a difficult process. Make sure you talk to a New York medical malpractice attorney as soon as possible to discuss your case. New York’s statute of limitations is only two and a half years from the discovery of the error, so it is imperative that you act quickly to get your delayed diagnosis claim started.
Buttafuoco & Associates is here to help injured patients or families who lost a loved one recover compensation for their damages and loss. Call 1-800-NOW-HURT or fill out our contact form for a free case review.