Inadequate diagnoses occur when a doctor makes the wrong diagnosis of a patient’s medical condition or makes the correct diagnosis after an unacceptable delay. Either way, the patient does not receive a timely and accurate diagnosis, which may make his or her illness more difficult to treat. A doctor who makes an inadequate diagnosis may be liable for medical malpractice.
Wrongful Diagnosis vs. Delayed Diagnosis
The two main types of inadequate diagnoses are misdiagnosis and delayed diagnosis. Both are significant medical errors that can harm patients.
Misdiagnosis or Incorrect Diagnosis
In a misdiagnosis or incorrect diagnosis, the doctor diagnoses the patient with the incorrect condition or fails to make a timely diagnosis. For instance, a patient visits his or her doctor with chest pain. After the doctor performs a few tests, he or she assures the patient it is a minor issue—acid reflux or indigestion.
The patient, relieved, returns home and ignores any further pain. A few days later, the patient is climbing a flight of stairs when his or her chest tightens up. The patient collapses, then awakens in the hospital to learn he or she had a heart attack.
In this situation, the doctor made a wrongful diagnosis, which led to the patient suffering a heart attack that he or she may have been able to avoid with a correct diagnosis and early intervention.
In a delayed diagnosis, the doctor makes the correct diagnosis, but only after an unacceptable delay. The challenge in holding a doctor liable for medical malpractice for a delayed diagnosis is proving the doctor had enough information to have made the correct diagnosis earlier.
Inadequate Diagnoses and Medical Malpractice
To hold a doctor liable for medical malpractice based on an inadequate diagnosis, the plaintiff must demonstrate three things:
- By making an inadequate diagnosis, the doctor failed to follow the standard of care.
- The doctor’s failure caused the patient to suffer injuries.
- The patient incurred damages because of his or her injuries.
Free Case Evaluation With a Medical Malpractice Lawyer
Inadequate Diagnoses - Frequently Asked Questions
Statutes of limitations apply in medical malpractice lawsuits if symptoms were present immediately but got worse recently. However, some states allow tolling, or delaying, the statute of limitations for patients to receive continuing treatment for the injury or illness their doctor allegedly caused. If you believe you sustained a catastrophic injury because of medical malpracticeRead More
A misdiagnosis of a serious medical condition can lead to substantial harm, unbearable pain and suffering, and, in worst cases, even death. Without a timely and accurate diagnosis, a severe illness or injury goes untreated, allowing it to grow, spread, and worsen. If a doctor misdiagnosed your condition and caused you to suffer harm, youRead More
Inadequate Diagnoses - News Articles
New York Woman Files Medical Malpractice Lawsuit Over Alleged Cancer Misdiagnosis and Unnecessary Breast Removal More than 200,000 women were diagnosed with breast cancer in 2015, including Eduvigis Rodriguez. She was 49 years-old when she noticed a lump in her left breast. Based on a biopsy performed at Mount Sinai Beth Israel Hospital in NewRead More
Kira Charlton went into labor on March 2, 2011 and was rushed to the Delaware County Memorial Hospital, located in Drexel Hill, PA. Charlton’s twins were deemed healthy throughout her pregnancy, but her doctors advised a cesarean section. According to a 2013 medical malpractice lawsuit, filed on behalf of the Charlton family, when she arrivedRead More