Delayed diagnosis can be a significant factor in medical malpractice cases, as it can lead to serious harm or even death for patients. Healthcare professionals are expected to follow a standard of care that includes timely and accurate diagnosis. Failure to do so may constitute medical negligence, and it may result in a cause to pursue legal action for medical malpractice.
The following are some of the common ways in which delayed diagnosis may contribute to a patient’s actionable harm.
Increased severity of the condition
A delayed diagnosis often means that the patient’s medical condition has progressed further than it would have with a timely diagnosis. As a result, the severity of the illness or injury may increase, leading to more complications, a need for more aggressive treatment, and poorer outcomes. This can be particularly critical in cases where early intervention could have prevented or mitigated the progression of the disease.
Loss of chance doctrine
The loss-of-chance doctrine is a legal concept that comes into play when a delayed diagnosis reduces a patient’s chances of a better outcome. If a healthcare professional’s negligence diminishes the likelihood of a positive outcome, the patient may have a legal claim based on the loss of a chance for a better prognosis or treatment.
Prolonged suffering and emotional distress
Cases of delayed diagnosis can result in prolonged suffering and emotional distress for patients and their families. When a condition goes undiagnosed, patients may experience ongoing symptoms, pain and discomfort. They may also endure the stress and anxiety associated with not knowing the cause of their health issues. The emotional toll on the patient and their family can be considered part of the damages in a medical malpractice claim.
Increased medical costs
As a result of delayed diagnosis, patients may incur higher medical costs. The delayed identification of a medical condition can lead to the need for more extensive and expensive treatments. In some cases, a delayed diagnosis may necessitate additional surgeries, therapies or medications that might have been avoided with a timely diagnosis. Patients may incur financial burdens due to increased healthcare expenses, and these additional costs can be factored into a medical malpractice claim.
Understanding delayed diagnosis and how it can be used as the basis for a medical malpractice claim can help you determine if you have enough grounds to pursue this kind of case due to the unique nature of your circumstances. Getting legal guidance is crucial to navigating the complexities of the legal system and building a strong case.