What Is Failure to Diagnose?
Failure to diagnose occurs when a doctor or other health care practitioner fails to accurately diagnose a health condition.
Failure to diagnose also includes:
- Delayed diagnosis: A physician delays making the correct diagnosis.
- Misdiagnosis: A physician makes an incorrect diagnosis.
Failure to diagnose, delayed diagnosis, and misdiagnosis can all lead to severe health consequences, including a prolonged condition, ineffective or improper treatment, disease progression, and sometimes even wrongful death.
All three types of errors may be considered a form of medical malpractice.
Medical malpractice occurs when a health care provider fails to follow the accepted standard of care and harms a patient.
Many failure to diagnose cases occur in emergency rooms where people seek urgent care.
Report Reveals Frequency of Medical Malpractice Misdiagnosis
According to a 2022 report by Agency for Healthcare and Quality, about 6% of people who seek treatment in emergency departments (ED) in the United States are misdiagnosed, and 2% suffer an adverse event as a result. In about 0.3% of those patients, the adverse event is severe.
“This translates to about 1 in 18 ED patients receiving an incorrect diagnosis, 1 in 50 suffering an adverse event, and 1 in 350 suffering permanent disability or death.”
– Agency for Healthcare and Quality
The report said these 5 conditions were most likely to be misdiagnosed:
- Heart attack
- Aortic aneurysm/dissection (an enlargement or tear of the body’s main artery)
- Spinal cord compression or injury
- Blood clot in a vein
If you were injured by a health care provider’s failure to provide a proper diagnosis in a timely manner, contact LawFirm.com right now for a free case evaluation.
Types of Health Conditions Doctors Fail to Diagnose
Here are some of the different health conditions that doctors often fail to diagnose.
An aneurysm is a bulging, weakened spot in a blood vessel. Aneurysms can develop in any blood vessel, but they typically occur in the brain or in the abdominal aorta (the body’s largest blood vessel).
If a doctor fails to diagnose an aneurysm in time, a patient can suffer brain damage or death.
Symptoms of aneurysms include:
- Double or blurred vision
- Drooping eyelids
- Light sensitivity
- Loss of consciousness
- Stiff neck
Blood clots are gel-like or semi-solid masses that form in the veins and arteries. They can protect a person from bleeding too much if they have surgery or are injured. People sometimes develop blood clots from medical conditions.
If doctors fail to spot and treat blood clots in time, they can cause heart attacks, pulmonary embolisms, strokes, and death.
Common symptoms of blood clots include:
- Changes in skin color
- Chest pain
- Difficulty breathing
- Leg pain
- Swollen legs
Some types of cancer can be effectively treated and even reach remission when the disease is detected at an early stage. If a doctor makes diagnostic errors or mistakes cancer for another illness, the disease can progress, causing unnecessary pain, severe injury, and even death.
One type of cancer that is frequently misdiagnosed is breast cancer. A misdiagnosis can occur when a radiologist misreads a mammogram or a doctor fails to order a biopsy or other tests. Advanced breast cancer can lead to painful treatments, the loss of both or one breast, and death.
Sometimes people aren’t sure whether they qualify for a failure to diagnose lawsuit. To find out, chat with one of our medical malpractice case managers right now.
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Heart Attacks & Other Cardiac Conditions
A person suffers a heart attack when the blood supply to the heart is cut off. A patient may have symptoms of a heart attack or other cardiac conditions like heart failure or cardiomyopathy (disease of the heart muscle), which should signal to a physician that they need emergency care.
Symptoms of a heart attack and other cardiac conditions include:
- Back pain
- Chest discomfort or pain
- Feeling faint, light-headed, or weak
- Jaw or neck discomfort
- Pain in both shoulders or arms
- Shortness of breath
Cardiac conditions are often fatal if they are not diagnosed in time.
Harmful agents like bacteria and viruses can cause infections when they enter the body.
An undiagnosed infection can lead to sepsis, a life-threatening medical emergency that happens when an infection triggers a chain reaction throughout the immune system.
At first, a person with sepsis may have rapid breathing and heart rate, chills, and weakness. If left untreated, toxins produced by bacteria will damage the small blood vessels, resulting in fluid leaking into the surrounding organs and tissues.
This can affect the heart’s ability to provide blood to vital organs, lowering blood pressure and causing septic shock. Without timely treatment, sepsis and septic shock can lead to organ failure, tissue damage, and death.
A pulmonary embolism is a sudden blockage in the blood vessels that direct blood to your lungs. They usually happen when a blood clot in the leg’s deep veins breaks off and moves to the lungs. Other causes include a fat embolism from a badly broken bone, tumors, and air bubbles.
A failure to diagnose a pulmonary embolism can lead to cardiac arrhythmia (an irregular heart rhythm), pleural effusion (fluid buildup in the lining of the lung), pulmonary hypertension (high blood pressure in your lungs), and pulmonary infarction (when part of the lung dies).
Symptoms of a pulmonary embolism include:
- Leg swelling or pain
- Shortness of breath
- Sudden and sharp chest pain
A stroke occurs when a blood vessel in the brain bursts or something blocks the blood supply to the brain. If a doctor fails to diagnose or treat a stroke within minutes, the event can lead to parts of the brain becoming damaged, causing permanent disability and in many cases death.
Symptoms of a stroke usually appear suddenly and include:
- Dizziness, lack of coordination, or trouble walking
- Confusion or difficulty understanding speech
- Severe headache
- Vision problems
- Weakness or numbness in the arm, face, or leg, especially on one side of the body
LawFirm.com works with medical malpractice attorneys who can help with a failure to diagnose lawsuit. Contact one of our case managers right now for a free case review.
Other Commonly Misdiagnosed Health Conditions
Other commonly misdiagnosed health conditions include:
- Appendicitis: Appendicitis is often mistaken for gastrointestinal problems. A failed diagnosis can cause a ruptured appendix, other medical complications, and possibly death if not caught in time.
- Birth injuries: Failure to diagnose a maternal infection or other health conditions can lead to a birth injury. A medical error when diagnosing a birth injury can result in the condition worsening.
- Celiac disease: Doctors may misdiagnose celiac disease, an immune and inflammatory reaction to gluten in the intestines, as chronic fatigue, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), or migraines.
- Hypothyroidism: This condition occurs when the thyroid gland doesn’t produce enough hormones to regulate energy, weight, and mood. Failure to diagnose and treat it can cause obesity, heart disease, infertility, and joint pain.
- Lyme disease: If this bacterial infection often caused by tick bites is not treated in time, it can spread to your joints, nervous system, and heart. Doctors often confuse this condition for fibromyalgia, the flu, depression, or meningitis.
- Multiple sclerosis: This autoimmune disease attacks the central nervous system by disrupting communication between the brain and other body parts. Medical providers may misdiagnose multiple sclerosis as nerve damage, neuropathy, and migraines.
What to Do If You Suspect Failure to Diagnose
If you have a health condition and suspect failure to diagnose, misdiagnosis, or a delayed diagnosis, you may be eligible for a failure to diagnose lawsuit.
If you are a cancer patient, ask yourself these questions:
- Did my physician order appropriate diagnostic tests, such as biopsies or bloodwork?
- Did they order routine cancer screening tests and accurately interpret the screening and diagnostic test results?
If you have had a heart attack or another cardiac issue, ask yourself these questions:
- Did the doctor perform an EKG to analyze your heart rhythm? Did they offer clot-dissolving drugs?
- Did they conduct blood tests to measure the cardiac enzyme levels in your blood?
If you have had a stroke, ask yourself these questions:
- Did your provider perform a detailed neurologic exam?
- Did they perform an artery ultrasound?
- Did they perform a CT scan of the brain?
If you answered “no” to any of these questions, you may qualify for a failure to diagnose lawsuit. It’s important to file your misdiagnosis lawsuit before the statute of limitations runs out. This deadline, which varies by state, can be as little as 1 year depending on the state in which you live.
LawFirm.com has nurses on staff who can listen to your story and help you figure out what went wrong and if medical negligence may have played a role. Call (888) 726-9160 or fill out our online form for a free case review.
Failure to Diagnose Lawsuit: Personal Injury & Wrongful Death
There are two types of failure to diagnose lawsuits: personal injury lawsuits and wrongful death lawsuits.
Failure to Diagnose Personal Injury Lawsuits
A failure to diagnose attorney can help you file a personal injury lawsuit if you were harmed by a physician’s inability to diagnose your condition on time or correctly. You may be able to recover compensation for medical expenses, pain and suffering, lost wages, loss of quality of life, and more.
Failure to Diagnose Wrongful Death Lawsuits
A failure to diagnose lawyer can file a failure to diagnose wrongful death lawsuit on behalf of a family member if a relative was harmed by a physician’s inability to diagnose their condition accurately or on time and they died as a result. The family may be able to recover compensation for funeral costs, medical bills, loss of time with their loved one, and more.
Failure to Diagnose Lawsuit Settlement Amounts
Research has shown a substantial portion of failure to diagnose jury verdicts are over $1 million.
One report revealed that the median jury trial award for a failure to diagnose case is $422,000, and 16% of cases have awards equaling or exceeding $1 million.
However, a misdiagnosis lawsuit can result in more or less compensation (or no compensation at all), depending on the specifics of the case.
Here are some results that the medical malpractice lawyers that we work with have achieved:
$3.9 million for a Massachusetts patient (delayed herniated disc diagnosis)
$3.25 million for a New Hampshire patient (delayed lung cancer diagnosis)
$2.43 million for a Massachusetts patient (failure to diagnose)
$1.75 million for a New Hampshire patient (failure to diagnose ovarian cancer)
A medical malpractice attorney can tell you the case value of your potential failure to diagnose lawsuit.
Contact our team at LawFirm.com right now to get started with a free consultation.
What to Look for in a Failure to Diagnose Attorney
Finding a skilled medical misdiagnosis lawyer can be challenging.
Here are some traits to look for when searching for the best lawyer for your case:
- Caring and compassionate: Your attorney should understand the devastation associated with a medical malpractice case. They should provide emotional support and build strong attorney-client relationships.
- Experience in failure to diagnose malpractice cases: By working with a lawyer who has handled cases similar to yours, you increase your chance of success.
- Extensive resources: A lawyer who can handle a wrong diagnosis lawsuit will have a variety of resources, including registered nurses on staff who are skilled at identifying medical malpractice and renowned medical experts who can help strengthen your claim.
- No upfront fees: The best lawyers do not charge any upfront or out-of-pocket fees for handling misdiagnosis lawsuits. Instead, they take a portion of any compensation you receive from a settlement or trial verdict.
Get Help With Your Failure to Diagnose Case
A doctor’s failure to diagnose or a delay in diagnosis can lead to severe medical problems as well as financial consequences and wrongful death.
Careless medical providers should be held accountable for the harm that they cause.
If you or a loved one were hurt by a medical professional’s failure to provide a timely diagnosis, our team at LawFirm.com may be able to help.
Misdiagnosis Lawsuit Cases FAQs
Can you sue for misdiagnosis?
Yes, you may be able to sue for misdiagnosis if a health care provider acted negligently and caused you to suffer harm. An attorney can help you pursue compensation through a medical misdiagnosis lawsuit.
Can you sue a doctor for failure to diagnose?
Yes, you may be able to file a lawsuit for misdiagnosis or a delayed diagnosis if the doctor acted negligently and you suffered harm as a result. Suing for misdiagnosis allows medical malpractice victims to pursue compensation to pay for medical bills, pain and suffering, and more.
Can you sue for wrong test results?
Potentially. If the incorrect test results caused you to suffer an injury, you may be able to file a medical malpractice lawsuit against the responsible parties.
For example, cancer patients have successfully sued medical providers for incorrect test results that prevented them from getting treatment and allowed their disease to progress.
Is misdiagnosis malpractice?
Perhaps. A misdiagnosis may be considered medical malpractice if a health care provider failed to follow the standard of care. This means that they did not act in the same way that others in their field would have acted under the same conditions.
How long do medical misdiagnosis cases take?
The length of a specific medical misdiagnosis case depends on various factors like the complexity of the case, the patient’s condition, and where the case is filed. Cases that settle out of court typically resolve much quicker.
A medical malpractice failure to diagnose lawsuit can take several years to make its way through the legal system.
How do you prove doctor misdiagnosis?
Personal injury lawyers help clients prove medical malpractice. They can do this by collecting evidence like medical records, expert reports, and witness testimonies.