What Happens if Your Doctor Fails To Diagnose Your Illness?

a doctor running tests on a patient

More than 126,000 Americans lose their lives each year as a result of doctors and medical professionals incorrectly diagnosing or failing to diagnose significant medical conditions. If you or a loved one are struggling with a medical issue that was not properly diagnosed or a diagnosis was unnecessarily delayed, you may have grounds to pursue financial restitution for your harms and losses.

What a Victim of Medical Malpractice Can Do If Their Doctor Fails to Diagnose Their Illness

A patient bringing a failure to diagnose case must prove that there was a doctor-patient relationship, that the doctor failed to live up to the standard of care in diagnosing the patient’s condition, and that the doctor’s failure to diagnose or misdiagnosis actually and proximately caused an actual injury. Most often, failure to diagnose cases involves disputes related to the applicable standard of care and whether the doctor’s failure to diagnose caused the plaintiff’s injury.

What Happens If a Doctor Gives a Wrong Diagnosis

If a doctor provides a misdiagnosis, fails to properly diagnose, or there is an unnecessary delay to diagnose a medical condition, it can have significant, life-altering ramifications. The information below highlights some medical conditions that could be misdiagnosed and the significant consequences of such a misdiagnosis or delayed diagnosis.

  • Cancer: Timely diagnosis is absolutely critical to properly treat cancer. Failing to diagnose or misdiagnosing cancer in a patient may result in more invasive and painful treatments and a reduced likelihood of recovery. Misdiagnosing or failing to diagnose cancer can also cause serious injuries, unnecessary pain and suffering, and/or death.
  • Heart Attack: During a heart attack, blood flow must be restored quickly to avoid damage. This means failing to diagnose, misdiagnose, or delaying a diagnosis of a heart attack can have life-threatening ramifications.

How to Prove Medical Malpractice

To have a viable misdiagnosis medical malpractice claim, the following legal elements must be established with evidence (e.g., medical records, depositions, expert testimony, etc.):

  • There was a doctor-patient relationship between you and the doctor;
  • The doctor was negligent, such as the doctor failing to provide a proper and/or timely diagnosis; and
  • You were injured as a proximate result of the doctor’s negligence.

Types of Misdiagnosis

Three common types of misdiagnosis can serve as grounds for a medical malpractice lawsuit:

  • Failure to diagnose
  • Delayed diagnosis
  • Misdiagnosis

A failure to diagnose a medical condition occurs when a medical professional fails to make any diagnosis allowing a condition to worsen. In contrast, a misdiagnosis occurs when a medical professional incorrectly diagnoses a condition, recommending an inappropriate or ineffective treatment plan. Finally, a delayed diagnosis occurs when a medical professional significantly delays diagnosing a condition, thereby allowing the condition to worsen.

Damages You May Be Able to Collect in a Medical Malpractice Claim

If you or a loved one was the victim of a misdiagnosis or failure to diagnose and that negligence caused your condition to worsen, resulting in significant harm, there may be grounds to pursue financial restitution for your harms and losses. Please be advised that compensation fluctuates for every medical malpractice claim. For example, the estimated cost of future medical treatment varies significantly between a case involving a child suffering a life-long birth injury and an adult who needs a secondary procedure to correct a surgical mistake.

With that caveat in mind, below are some common forms of financial restitution that can be pursued by an experienced Texas medical malpractice attorney on your behalf:

  • Lost income or diminished earning capacity
  • Medical expenses, including both current and future expenses
  • Travel expenditures related to doctor and specialist visits and appointments
  • In-home services, such as cleaning services and nursing care
  • Mental anguish and trauma, including loss of enjoyment of life and inconvenience

If a loved one died due to a misdiagnosis, failure to diagnose, or untimely diagnosis, then you may have grounds to file a medical malpractice wrongful death lawsuit. Compensation available in a wrongful death claim includes:

  • Funeral and burial expenses
  • Medical expenses incurred prior to death
  • Lost wages or income
  • Loss of guidance, nurturing, or advice

Can a Family Member Sue for Medical Malpractice?

In most personal injury cases, including medical malpractice cases, the individual who suffered the harm is the proper party to file a lawsuit for the damages proximately caused by the negligent conduct. However, there are specific circumstances where other individuals may be substituted or included as parties in a medical malpractice case. But please be advised that the law of the state in which you reside will dictate who can file a lawsuit and what they may be able to recover in terms of economic and non-economic damages.

For example, if an injured party signed a power of attorney for someone else to act on their behalf, then the party with the power of attorney may file a medical malpractice suit on behalf of an injured party.

Another example is in wrongful death cases where the negligent actions, or inaction, of a medical professional caused someone to lose their life. In this scenario, the decedent’s spouse, child, and/or parents generally have a legal basis for filing a medical malpractice lawsuit.

In a wrongful death claim, a spouse or child may have grounds to pursue damages for pecuniary losses (financial losses) and loss of inheritance, as well as loss of companionship and mental anguish, assuming sufficient evidence exists. A decedent’s parent may be able to claim certain pecuniary losses and loss of companionship and mental anguish.

Have Questions? Contact an Experienced Medical Malpractice Lawyer in Texas

The experienced and respected medical malpractice lawyers at Slack Davis Sanger provide effective and knowledgeable representation for patients seriously injured by medical negligence. With a global reputation for excellence, our team of top-notch Texas medical malpractice lawyers understand how to navigate these challenging cases. Our own legal nurse consultant provides experienced medical expertise to our malpractice cases, providing an additional layer of knowledge.