Our Attorneys Pursue Misdiagnosis and Delayed Diagnosis Claims in Montana and Wyoming
The most common form of medical malpractice in America is the failure to correctly diagnose a patient’s medical condition. The results of diagnostic errors can be devastating, especially when the errors involve potentially deadly conditions such as cancer. It follows that many medical malpractice lawsuits arise from these medical errors. However, pursuing malpractice claims based on diagnostic errors can be complex and difficult. These claims are often not as straightforward as other malpractice claims, such as surgical errors. And the physicians may have more legal defenses. To navigate the potential pitfalls, patients and their loved ones will need a seasoned misdiagnosis law firm with experience in failure to diagnose cases.
What are the Different Types of Diagnostic Errors?
Diagnostic errors generally come down to the failure to accurately diagnose a medical condition. However, there are certain types of common diagnostic errors, with important differences between them.
- Failure to Diagnose: The physician could completely fail to diagnose any medical condition or illness at all, so the medical condition goes untreated.
- Delayed Diagnosis: The physician could accurately diagnose the condition, but the diagnosis is delayed due to physician error. The delayed treatment could prove harmful or even fatal, such as for cancer that progresses past the point of treatment.
- Misdiagnosis: The diagnostic error might be a misdiagnosis, where the patient does not actually suffer from the diagnosed condition. The patient will have to undergo the burden of improper treatment. In addition, the patient’s true medical condition may be missed completely.
Any of these diagnostic errors could result in life-altering harm to the patient or even death.
Causes of Misdiagnosis and Delayed Diagnosis
There are many potential causes of diagnostic errors. Among the most common are the following:
- Inadequate Patient Evaluation: The physician could fail to adequately evaluate the patient in several ways. These include failure to question the patient properly, thoroughly examine the patient, or review the patient's medical history.
- Failure to Order Appropriate Diagnostic Testing: A doctor may ignore certain signs and symptoms that would otherwise prompt the ordering of diagnostic testing. When a doctor fails to order appropriate diagnostic testing to rule out or confirm suspected conditions, this delays the opportunity to provide an accurate diagnosis to the patient.
- Failure to List Condition as Potential Diagnosis: Physicians generally create a list of potential diagnoses for conditions they discover. The doctor could fail to include the correct diagnosis on their list. Additionally, physicians could ignore potential diagnoses due to symptoms being attributed to other conditions, thereby misdiagnosing or delaying a correct diagnosis.
- Delays in Testing: Some testing is conducted at another facility away from the main doctor’s office or hospital. If testing is conducted at a different facility, your doctor may have little control over when you can be scheduled for testing. Documentation such as orders or referrals can be lost in transit between offices, misplaced, or electronically coded as completed before testing is done. These administrative issues will ultimately delay the ability to promptly diagnose conditions.
- Testing Errors: The testing performed could produce incorrect results. This may be the result of lab errors during testing. The testing equipment may malfunction or be defective. The testing sample could also be contaminated.
- Incorrect Reading of Test Results: The incorrect reading could be of any testing result, from an X-ray or MRI to blood sample testing.
- Failure to Share Test Results: By not sharing test results with patients and other medical professionals accurately or promptly, doctors may miss opportunities to have meaningful conversations with patients about their medical history and recent tests. With incomplete information being exchanged, it is easy to misdiagnose or delay a proper diagnosis.
Although the above are common causes of diagnostic errors, the circumstances vary for each case. For example, miscommunication between physicians or medical staff could result in a diagnostic error. An experienced medical malpractice attorney can hone in on the specific facts of your case and how to prove liability.
Holding Medical Providers Liable for Delayed Diagnosis
Now that you are aware of common causes of misdiagnoses, delayed diagnoses, and failure to diagnose a condition, you need to be aware of the many participants in your medical care that could be held liable. In order to hold these parties responsible for medical malpractice or negligence, your failure to diagnose lawyer will need to establish that:
- There was a professional relationship between the patient and health care provider, creating a duty for the health care provider to treat the patient with the appropriate, professional standard of care expected in the medical field;
- The medical professional did not uphold the standard of care or their duty to the patient;
- The cause of misdiagnosis, failure to diagnose, or delayed diagnosis was the result of the physician's failure to uphold the standard of care due to the patient; and
- The delayed diagnosis resulted in harm to the patient, such as additional suffering, additional medical treatments, and long-term medical conditions. This is a complicated element to prove, as medical professionals will look to escape liability by stating the harm would have happened even if the diagnosis occurred earlier.
Due to the complex nature of advanced medicine, there are many opportunities for a medical provider to be involved with a patient case, even in a minor capacity. However these fleeting interactions can have significant consequences. For example:
- A radiologist may misread a diagnostic imaging report or incorrectly document their findings, leading to misdiagnosis or failure to diagnose a condition.
- An ER nurse may fail to relay and document obvious observations of a patient’s condition to other staff, thereby leaving out a key piece of the diagnostic puzzle as urgent medical attention is administered.
- A consulting physician may miss part of a patient’s medical record and misdiagnose a condition because the physician did not thoroughly review this particular patient’s history to account for uniqueness.
Your Montana delayed diagnosis lawyer will thoroughly review your pertinent medical records to identify those who may be responsible. As with other medical malpractice and negligence cases, the medical facility may also be liable for a failure to ensure proper screening and training of medical staff, which puts patients at risk. Let your failure to diagnose lawyer handle these complex matters for you.
Failure to Diagnose Cancer
Cancer is a tricky disease. With modern medicine, we have advanced diagnostic tools that lead us to earlier diagnostic abilities, which in turn lead to earlier treatment and intervention that often results in a better prognosis. If a doctor is ignoring common signs and symptoms of cancer, failing to order appropriate testing, and disregarding a patient’s medical history, you need a skilled failure to diagnose lawyer on your side to fight for you.
However not all cancer is the same, and some types of cancer remain hidden despite the best efforts of physicians. There are also plenty of cases where it is unclear whether earlier intervention would be successful in overcoming cancer. In these more complex cases, working with a Wyoming or Montana delayed diagnosis lawyer to analyze and consult with medical experts on your case is critical to moving forward.
A Misdiagnosis or Delayed Diagnosis Can Harm Patients
There can be serious consequences for misdiagnosis or delayed diagnosis that results in additional harm to patients. As mentioned, an incorrect diagnosis can be fatal in cases like cancer where the disease is allowed to progress past the point of treatment and can result in patient death.
In less extreme cases not resulting in death, the medical consequences and prolonged suffering can still be severe. For example, an infection can lead to permanent impairments or amputation. Prosthetics, therapy, and additional surgery would be required, adding to the time and expense of dealing with medical conditions. A failure to diagnose nerve damage has a lasting impact. Nerve damage cannot heal itself, and the longer nerves remain compromised, the more difficult repair and recovery become. Even with continuing physical therapy, muscle strength and range of motion can diminish in misdiagnosis cases invoking muscle injury.
Seeking Financial Compensation for Delayed Diagnosis
Your Montana delayed diagnosis lawyer knows how to handle the pressure from malpractice defense attorneys who are looking to protect their own clients -- the parties responsible for your harm. Rest assured your Wyoming delayed diagnosis lawyer is focused on the unique set of circumstances that led to the failure to diagnose your condition and the resulting aftermath and will seek the financial compensation you deserve.
Your failure to diagnose lawyer may seek the cost of additional medical procedures and treatment that otherwise would not have been necessary if you were diagnosed properly from the start, including:
- Cost of additional testing that resulted in your correct diagnosis
- Medication to properly treat your condition
- Follow-up appointments necessary for the ongoing treatment of your advanced condition
- Additional surgical expense
- Physical, occupational, and other therapy
Your lawyer will also seek out additional compensation for pain and suffering, lost wages, and loss of life’s enjoyment as appropriate to your case.
Consult with a Misdiagnosis Lawyer for Help in Montana and Wyoming
If you believe you are the victim of a medical diagnostic error in Montana or Wyoming, speak with a medical misdiagnosis attorney at Ragain & Clark, PC. We have over forty years of trial experience and a track record of success in helping patients and their loved ones recover compensation. Contact us today for a confidential evaluation of your case, free of charge.