Delayed diagnosis – When lags lead to medical malpractice

On Behalf of | Apr 4, 2024 | Medical Malpractice

Normally, negligence leading to medical malpractice takes the form of medical errors. However, it doesn’t always have to be about administering the wrong medicine or surgical mistakes.

Healthcare providers have a legal and ethical duty to diagnose patients’ conditions promptly and accurately. Failure to do so can constitute medical malpractice under Missouri law.

Why is a delayed diagnosis considered medical malpractice?

A delayed diagnosis can have severe consequences for a patient’s health. Certain conditions, such as cancer, heart disease or stroke, require swift intervention to prevent further harm or even death. When doctors fail to diagnose these conditions promptly, the delay can allow the disease to progress, diminishing the patient’s chances of a positive outcome.

The common causes of a delayed diagnosis

Several factors can contribute to a delayed diagnosis. These include:

  • Failure to order appropriate tests or follow up on abnormal results
  • Misinterpreting test results or dismissing concerning symptoms
  • Poor communication between healthcare providers or the patient
  • Inadequate medical knowledge or failure to refer to a specialist

Any of these factors can delay proper diagnosis and hold back prompt medical treatment. Time is of the essence when it comes to certain medical conditions, and any delays can mean the window for a patient’s treatment shrinks.

Proving malpractice for delayed diagnosis

Under Missouri law, healthcare providers must meet the applicable standard of care. Standard of care refers to the degree of skill and learning ordinarily used by members of the healthcare profession in the same or similar circumstances. A failure to meet that requirement, such as providing prompt medical diagnosis, constitutes medical malpractice.

To succeed in a delayed diagnosis claim, the patient must demonstrate that:

  • The healthcare provider didn’t meet the standard of care by not diagnosing the condition promptly.
  • This failure directly caused harm to the patient.
  • The patient suffered damages, such as additional medical expenses, lost income, or pain and suffering.

If you or a loved one has suffered harm due to a delayed diagnosis, you may be entitled to compensation. Before filing anything, you might want to consider legal counsel. An attorney with medical malpractice experience may be able to review your circumstances and help you gather evidence for your case.


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