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In Medical Malpractice, What Is “Failure to Diagnose?”

By Personal Injury Trial Attorney on July 21, 2017

On average, there are over 14,000 medical malpractice cases across the country each year.

Missouri statute defines “medical malpractice” as a medical provider’s failure to exercise the degree of skill and knowledge that is expected by a similar provider under similar circumstances, which causes or contributes to an injury or the death of a patient.

In medical terms, a diagnosis is defined as the process of making a determination through examination about the nature and conditions of a disease.

Failure to diagnose is a common form of malpractice, since obtaining an accurate diagnosis can literally be the difference between life and death.

Commonly Misdiagnosed or Missed Altogether

  • Fetal distress during childbirth.
  • A heart attack or stroke.
  • Cancer.
  • Pneumonia or meningitis.

Mistakes associated with lab test results, x-rays, and other means of detection contribute to misdiagnoses.

In cases involving cancer, a delay in diagnosis that extends over a period of several months can result in malpractice when the cancer progresses to an advanced stage, affects the ultimate outcome, or limits the treatment options that are available.

The Statute of Limitations

All actions against physicians, nurses, dentists, hospitals, therapists, and other medical professionals must be brought within a period of two years from the date the malpractice occurred or was complained about. Exceptions may apply, such as when an object is left within a patient’s body following a surgical procedure; the allowable time period is based on when the patient should have discovered the problem in the course of ordinary care. In situations where a provider failed to report test results, the action can be brought within a two-year period from when the failure to inform was discovered.

Damages

In malpractice cases, the potentially awarded damages are:

  • Economic damages (medical expenses, missed wages, etc.)
  • Noneconomic damages (loss of enjoyment, or pain and suffering, etc.)
  • Future medical damages (therapy, later surgeries, etc.)
  • Future economic damages (inability to work, etc.)
  • Future noneconomic damages (loss of ability to participate in life events, etc.)

The limitation for noneconomic damage awards is $400,000 except in extremely severe (catastrophic) situations, where the limit extends to $700,000. In matters that result in the wrongful death of a patient, the limit for noneconomic damages is also extended to $700,000. These caps are increased annually by around 2%.

Medical Malpractice Lawyers in Kansas City

If you or a loved one has suffered injuries or died as a result of medical errors, misdiagnosis, or surgical mistakes, you may be eligible for monetary compensation. Since 1952, the attorneys at Norton & Norfleet, P.C., have been advocating for victims in the greater Kansas City area. Contact the office today at (816) 454-5800 for a free consultation.

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Posted in: Medical Malpractice

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