Misdiagnosis versus Delayed Diagnosis

Medical misdiagnosis and delayed diagnosis are the two most common forms of malpractice in the United States – and the leading cause of malpractice lawsuits. In fact, 10 to 20% of patients are misdiagnosed, and one study found that 28% of those misdiagnosis instances were life-threatening or resulted in death. While the two have similar characteristics, delayed diagnosis and a misdiagnosis are two different malpractice issues.

What is a Misdiagnosis?

A misdiagnosis occurs when a physician diagnoses the patient with the wrong disease or condition entirely.

For example, a doctor might decide a patient has indigestion, but that patient was suffering a heart attack.

Misdiagnosis could lead to serious health complications, especially when a patient is not receiving treatment for the illness or condition he or she has. Furthermore, the patient undergoes unnecessary treatments that might cause significant suffering.

When patients are the victim of a misdiagnosis, they might be eligible for compensation through a malpractice lawsuit. The patient can seek damages for the additional medical care, pain and suffering, stress, and the costs for unnecessary treatments and expenses for the new therapies required.

What is a Delayed Diagnosis?

A delayed diagnosis means that the physician eventually reaches the correct diagnosis, but there is a significant delay. The delay then affects the patient.

Failure to receive timely treatment can be the difference between surviving an illness and dying from that disease. Especially, in the case of delayed cancer diagnosis. When a patient is not diagnosed with cancer and treated promptly, he or she may have cancer that progresses to a point where it is no longer survivable.

Proving a Misdiagnosis or Delayed Diagnosis was Malpractice

Not all instances of misdiagnosis or delayed diagnosis are malpractice. If the physician performed all diagnostic tests and came to the wrong conclusion, and a physician in a similar education, experience, and field of practice would have done the same, it is not malpractice.

If, however, the physician deviated from the standard of medical care, that doctor could be liable under malpractice laws. Furthermore, the patient must suffer imminent harm because of the misdiagnosis or delayed diagnosis.

After a misdiagnosis or delayed diagnosis, you may be entitled to compensation. It is in your best interest to consult with a malpractice attorney to explore your options. An attorney from Udall Shumway, PLC will help decide if you qualify for compensation and advocate for a fair settlement.

This blog should be used for informational purposes only. It does not create an attorney-client relationship with any reader and should not be construed as legal advice. If you or someone you know wishes to seek the help of an experienced personal injury attorney regarding Misdiagnosis versus Delayed Diagnosis, or other personal injury matters, call 480.461.5300. Udall Shumway PLC is located in Mesa, Arizona and is a full service law firm. We assist Individuals, families, businesses, schools and municipalities in Mesa and the Phoenix/East Valley.