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How Delayed Diagnosis or Misdiagnosis Can Cause a Medical Malpractice Claim


As a patient, you expect that your doctor will do everything they can to ensure that you are quickly diagnosed and receive the appropriate medical care. In some instances, however, it is possible that your doctor may not perform these duties with the care and competency that they should. Many medical malpractice claims involve misdiagnosis or delayed diagnosis.

What Do I Need to Prove for My Medical Malpractice Claim?

As in any injury claim, the burden of proof lies with the accuser. If you file a medical malpractice claim against your doctor, you can expect that you will need to provide enough proof to meet the requirements of the case. This can be a challenge if you aren’t experienced with medical malpractice claims, which is why you should contact a medical malpractice attorney before filing your claim.

To prevail in your claim, you will need to provide proof to support three factors. These factors are:

  • A doctor-patient relationship existed.
  • Your doctor was negligent and didn’t provide appropriate treatment in a reasonably competent manner.
  • Your doctor’s negligent behavior directly caused your injuries.

While the first point is easy enough to prove through medical records, the other two factors can be quite challenging to demonstrate without the knowledge of how these cases work. Your lawyer can help you investigate your injuries and medical care for evidence of malpractice.

How Can Misdiagnosis or Delayed Diagnosis Be Negligent?

If your diagnosis is delayed or you don’t receive the correct diagnosis, you may suffer some catastrophic consequences. If you have a progressive illness, your condition can grow worse while you’re waiting to get the correct treatment. You also may suffer an injury due to incorrect treatment, including unneeded surgeries or therapies.

Doctors use a specific system when diagnosing a condition, known as “differential diagnosis.” This systematic approach requires doctors to use observations, patient-reported information, specialist opinions, and tests to eliminate potential diagnoses from their list of possible diagnoses. Ideally, the correct diagnosis will be the only one remaining at the end of the process.

This isn’t always the case, however. There are a number of reasons why a diagnosis may be incorrect or unreasonably delayed. Even physicians who are highly competent and skillful can still make mistakes, but if your physician made mistakes that could have been avoided by another doctor in similar circumstances, they may be considered neglectful.

You will need to demonstrate that your doctor was neglectful, which means one of two things must be true:

  • Your doctor did not include the correct diagnosis on their initial differential diagnosis list, while a reasonably competent doctor under the same circumstances would have.
  • Your doctor included the correct diagnosis on their list but failed to perform the appropriate tests or seek the opinions of specialists to investigate the possibility of the diagnosis being correct.

Diagnostic Testing Errors & Medical Malpractice

It is also possible that you have a medical malpractice case, but your doctor is not the one liable. Faulty testing equipment, contamination, and human error can lead to inaccurate test results, which may cause an incorrect diagnosis. Potential causes of inaccurate tests can include:

  • The test results were read incorrectly.
  • The samples were contaminated.
  • The samples were mixed up with another patient’s samples.
  • The technician or specialist used the wrong test.
  • The technician used an improper procedure.
  • The technician or specialist missed important information on the imaging or test results.

If any of the above situations caused your diagnosis to be delayed or caused you to be misdiagnosed, you still may be able to hold the responsible party accountable for their actions with a claim.

Were You Injured by the Diagnosis Issues?

While it can be scary to be misdiagnosed or have to wait an unreasonable amount of time for a diagnosis, that doesn’t necessarily mean that you sustained harm. However, if your condition grew worse due to a lack of treatment, or you were injured by an inappropriate treatment, you can file a claim for these injuries. You will need to demonstrate that your injuries are due to the neglectful actions of your doctor.

It is also worth noting that you may be able to file a claim for emotional injuries or financial injuries, even if you didn’t sustain a physical injury from the diagnosis errors. Anxiety, stress, and unnecessary medical expenses can be some of the damages caused by inaccurate diagnoses.

Speak with Our Kansas City Medical Malpractice Attorneys – (888) 398-2277

As a patient, you trust that your doctor has your best interests in mind and will take appropriate steps to find the right diagnosis for your condition or injuries. If they fail to do so, the consequences can be devastating. Our Kansas City medical malpractice lawyers understand the stress and pain you may be in if your doctor failed to properly diagnose your conditions. At Bertram & Graf, L.L.C., we are dedicated to ensuring our clients’ needs are met to the fullest extent, so we will fight tirelessly for your claim.

Schedule a free consultation to begin your case. Contact our firm by calling (888) 398-2277.