Delayed Treatment Or The Failure To Diagnose Medical Conditions

Medical Malpractice Mistakes

Timing of a correct diagnosis can have an impact on the amount of harm suffered by a patient prior to treatment, having a serious impact on a patient’s life.  A significant number of medical malpractice lawsuits result from the misdiagnosis or the delayed diagnosis of medical conditions.  A patient’s condition may become much worse, and they could even die if a doctor commits a diagnostic error leading to incorrect treatment, delayed treatment, or no treatment.  However, even if a doctor makes an error in diagnosis, this does not necessarily mean that a medical malpractice lawsuit will be successful.

When a patient has been the victim of misdiagnosis and delayed diagnosis s/he may not have missed the opportunity to obtain effective treatment for their condition before it worsens.  Errors in diagnosis can result in particularly severe consequences in the case of:

  • Cancer – a delay in diagnosis can impact the likelihood of a patient making a full recovery.
  • Hearth attack, stroke, and embolism – these conditions are considered medical emergencies and need to be identified and treated quickly.
  • Sepsis and meningitis – failure to diagnose these conditions can result in serious brain injury, cerebral palsy, quadriplegia, blindness, and death.

When a doctor does not follow the appropriate diagnostic procedures they can be held accountable for the consequences that result.  However, a doctor is not legally responsible for every diagnostic error.  The patient needs to prove three things in order to prevail in a medical malpractice lawsuit based on misdiagnosis.

  1. That a doctor-patient relationship existed.
  2. That the doctor was negligent (did not provide the patient with treatment in a manner that was reasonably skillful and competent).
  3. That the patient was injured as a result of the doctor’s negligence.

The failure to diagnose or delaying diagnosis is not evidence of negligence in and of itself.  Even the most skilled doctor can make a diagnostic error while using reasonable care.  To determine if the doctor acted competently, what the doctor did or did not do in arriving at a diagnosis needs to be evaluated.

During a medical malpractice case, the patient will need to prove that another doctor in a similar specialty, under similar circumstances, would not have made an error in diagnosing the patient’s illness or condition.  The patient will need to prove:

  • That a reasonable skillful and competent doctor would have made the correct diagnosis and the doctor who made the error did not.
  • The doctor did not perform the appropriate tests or seek opinions from specialists to investigate the viability of the correct diagnosis.

If you or a loved one has been injured as a result of a doctor’s failure to diagnose or delayed diagnosis, contact an experienced Kingston medical malpractice attorney as soon as possible to evaluate your case.

But what do you think?  I would love to hear from you!  Leave a comment or I also welcome your phone call on my toll-free cell at 1-866-889-6882 or you can drop me an e-mail at  You are always welcome to request my FREE book, The Seven Deadly Mistakes of Malpractice Victims, at the home page of my website at