As a patient, you should trust that your doctor will tell you if you face a dangerous or life-threatening medical condition such as cancer or heart disease. Doctors and medical professionals betray that trust and cause potentially devastating harm when, due to their negligence, they fail to timely diagnose medical conditions, inform patients of their options and begin a course of treatment that is aimed at improving the patient’s health.
New York follows what is commonly called the “loss of chance” doctrine. Under this doctrine, a patient may be eligible to recover compensation if the patient can show that a delayed diagnosis occurred due to medical malpractice and, as a result of this delay, the patient suffered harm such as the diminished chance of survival, costlier medical treatment and greater exposure to pain and suffering. If you believe that you or a loved one suffered this type of harm due to a delayed diagnosis at a hospital or clinic, you should seek legal assistance from a Rochester medical malpractice law firm, as soon as possible.[toc]
What is a Delayed Diagnosis?
A delayed diagnosis can occur when a doctor fails to identify a patient’s serious or fatal medical condition. However, not all failures to diagnose a medical condition result in a legal claim. Medical professionals can make diagnostic mistakes even when they exercise reasonable care.
A delayed diagnosis may give rise to a medical malpractice claim if a reasonably prudent, similarly trained medical professional would have detected the patient’s condition in the same or similar circumstances, and the delay in the diagnosis causes a patient to suffer injury. For instance, the delay may worsen the patient’s prognosis. It may ultimately cause the patient’s death.
A delayed diagnosis of cancer is an example. A physician may fail to recognize a patient’s symptoms, order appropriate tests or refer the patient to an appropriate specialist. However, another physician with the same training and experience would have taken those steps and made a correct, timely diagnosis. As a result of the doctor’s negligence, the patient’s treatable cancer may go undiagnosed until it progresses to a point where it becomes far more difficult or impossible to treat.
A harmed patient or surviving family members may establish a delayed diagnosis claim by showing that a medical professional failed to include the correct diagnosis on a differential diagnosis list when another professional would have done so under similar circumstances, or that the professional included the diagnosis but failed to perform appropriate tests or refer the patient to appropriate specialists to properly investigate the viability of the diagnosis.
How Can Our Attorneys Help You After a Delayed Diagnosis?
For more than three decades, the attorneys of Powers & Santola, LLP, have fought for justice on behalf of clients who suffered serious injury or the loss of a loved one due to medical malpractice, including cases involving the delayed diagnosis of a medical condition. Several of our attorneys have been recognized by The Best Lawyers in America for their excellence in the field of medical malpractice law, and our firm has been noted as one of the “Best Law Firms” in this practice area.
If you believe that you or a loved one has suffered harm due to a delayed diagnosis, we will listen to you, review your medical records, thoroughly investigate what happened and consult with highly knowledgeable medical professionals about your case. If we move forward together, our attorneys will work tirelessly to pursue full and fair compensation for you and your family. To learn more, contact us today to discuss your case in a free and confidential consultation through our conveniently located Rochester office.
What Are Examples of a Delayed Diagnosis?
Any medical condition can be subject to a delayed diagnosis by a medical professional. Some of the common cases of delayed diagnosis that our law firm’s attorneys see include:
- Failure to diagnose cancer
- Failure to diagnose an infection or other bacterial or viral disease
- Misdiagnosis of symptoms and warning signs of imminent heart attack or stroke
- Failure to diagnose deep vein thrombosis or pulmonary embolism
- Failure to diagnose appendicitis, liver failure or kidney failure
- Failure to identify suicidal tendencies or ideation.
The attorneys of Powers & Santola, LLP, have represented numerous clients in cases which involved diagnostic errors, including:
- An $11.6 million verdict in a case in which the doctor failed to properly interpret and report a CT scan, and in turn, caused the patient to suffer a stroke that left him permanently disabled. (It is the largest verdict in Warren County history and believed to be the largest in the history of New York’s 11-county Fourth Judicial District.)
- A $4 million recovery in a case in which an emergency department physician failed to diagnose a subarachnoid hemorrhage caused by a leaking aneurysm after the patient had complained of the sudden onset of “the worst headache of my life.” The patient suffered permanent brain damage as a result of the diagnostic error.
- A $2.1 million recovery in a case in which a radiology group failed to properly communicate to an oncologist the findings of a destructive lesion on a CT scan of the patient’s spine. This failure caused a two-week delay in the diagnosis and surgical treatment of the patient’s spinal lesion. Due to the delay, the patient suffered severe compression of his spinal cord and permanently lost sensation in both of his legs.
Every diagnostic error case is different. They involve different facts and circumstances. Many cases present highly complex legal issues. For a review of the specific details of your case, contact our Rochester office today.
Why Does a Delayed Diagnosis Occur?
A delayed diagnosis can occur for many different reasons. Some of the most common causes are a doctor’s failure to:
- Review a patient’s medical history
- Fully examine a patient and identify his or her symptoms
- Order proper tests such as an X-ray, CT scan, MRI or blood test
- Correctly interpret tests results
- Timely notify a patient of test results
- Refer the patient to a specialist who has the knowledge and experience that it takes to identify a certain medical condition.
A delayed diagnosis may also occur due to miscommunication, an unreasonably long delay in getting test results back to a doctor or the loss of test results. The problem could be systemic. For instance, a hospital may understaff departments such as the emergency room. Overworked, highly stressed medical professionals can be highly prone to mistakes such as missing a diagnosis. A hospital may also lack certain protocols or fail to enforce existing protocols. In some cases, a lack of adequate equipment can lead to a delay in diagnosis.
The medical malpractice lawyers of Powers & Santola, LLP, can review your specific case and determine whether you or your loved one was the victim of medical negligence. If we determine that your case has merit, we will advise you of your legal rights and the options we can help you to pursue.
What Damages Can You Recover in a Delayed Diagnosis Claim?
As with all personal injury claims, the potential damages for a legal claim based on a delayed diagnosis include:
- Medical expenses – A patient may recover all reasonable and necessary past and future medical expenses caused by the delayed diagnosis. For instance, you may be eligible to recover medical expenses incurred for treatment that would not have been required if a doctor had timely diagnosed your condition.
- Loss of earnings or earning capacity – Similarly, if the complications caused by a delayed diagnosis keep you out of work for a long period, or if your diminished physical or mental capacity prevents you from earning the same income you earned previously, then you may be entitled to recover those lost earnings.
- Pain and suffering – If your delayed diagnosis causes pain and suffering above and beyond what you would have experienced if your condition had been timely diagnosed, you may be entitled to recover damages for that pain and suffering.
- Loss of enjoyment of life – A delayed diagnosis causes may lead to complications that reduce the quality of your life. For instance, you may be unable to perform the same activities as you did before.
- Loss of consortium – The patient is not the only one who suffers due to a delayed diagnosis. The patient’s spouse may suffer harm as well such as losing the patient’s care, services and companionship.
If a delayed diagnosis causes the wrongful death of a loved one, the attorneys of Powers & Santola, LLP, will pursue different types of damages on behalf of eligible surviving family members. Those damages may include funeral and burial expenses as well as the loss of support, assistance and possible inheritance.
Our Rochester Delayed Diagnosis Attorneys Can Help You
If you believe that you or a loved one suffered harm from a delayed diagnosis in Rochester or a surrounding community in New York, the experienced medical malpractice lawyers of Powers & Santola, LLP, want to help you. Call or reach us online today. We will review your case in a free and confidential consultation.