Diagnostic Errors Can Give Rise to a Lawsuit
Before a sick patient can become well, he or she needs to be correctly diagnosed. Unfortunately, some doctors fail to properly diagnose a medical condition, which can delay necessary treatment and possibly result in serious injury or death.
At O’Connor, Parsons, Lane & Noble, LLC, we understand the frustration patients feel when there has been a failure to diagnose or a delay in diagnosis. We are committed to getting our clients the maximum compensation allowed under the law for these situations so that they can pay their medical expenses and other bills.
Why Diagnostic Errors Occur
There are many examples of missed or delayed diagnosis. A patient might go to a dermatologist to have their moles checked, but the dermatologist neglects to perform a biopsy on a mole that turns out to be melanoma.
Or a patient might show up in a doctor’s office complaining of stomach pain, only to be sent their way home and told to take two aspirin. In reality, the patient has a burst appendix and needs immediate surgery.
There are many reasons why a doctor might miss a diagnosis, make a wrong diagnosis, or delay in making a correct diagnosis. For example:
- The doctor might have inadequate training and not recognize symptoms for what they are.
- A doctor might be careless in not ordering the necessary tests or bloodwork to correctly diagnose a condition.
- A doctor might not know what questions to ask to properly diagnose a condition.
- A doctor could be impaired due to drug or alcohol addiction, which causes them to perform carelessly.
- The doctor cuts corners to save money or to meet with more patients to increase the revenue of the practice.
Requirements for a Missed or Delayed Diagnosis Lawsuit
Under New Jersey law, a patient will need to prove several elements to bring a successful medical malpractice claim based on a missed or delayed diagnosis. The elements are:
- Existence of a doctor-patient relationship. This should be fairly easy if you scheduled an appointment with a doctor who agreed to meet with you.
- Breach of the accepted standard of care. The diagnostic errors must have stemmed from the doctor not following the proper standard of care. In other words, a doctor who was sufficiently careful and skilled would have made a timely, proper diagnosis.
- Causation. The missed or delayed diagnosis must have injured you in some way. If there is no connection between your injury and the diagnostic error, then there is no lawsuit. For example, a doctor might fail to diagnose a patient with colon cancer, but the patient dies of a stroke. Here, causation does not exist.
- Damages. A client must have suffered an injury that the law recognizes. Generally, a diagnostic error that causes physical injury, death, or more medical care will qualify.
It isn’t easy for the average person to analyze whether they have a case. One of the hardest elements is the second—whether the doctor was negligent when making a diagnosis or failing to diagnose. We work closely with expert witnesses to identify whether a doctor followed the correct standard of care.
Compensation for a Diagnostic Error
Our clients incur substantial medical bills and other losses when doctors fail to diagnose a condition properly. For example, a delayed diagnosis often results in more medical care being needed to properly treat the patient. Other clients must miss work because they are so ill as a result of not receiving a proper diagnosis.
Clients can also receive compensation for the pain and suffering they have endured. Their spouses might receive compensation for loss of consortium, which compensates for the loss of the familial relationship.
It is difficult to analyze how much money might be at stake in the abstract, so meet with a lawyer to discuss your individual circumstances.
Speak with one of Our New Jersey Medical Malpractice Attorneys
Every case involving diagnostic errors is different. A medical malpractice attorney at O’Connor, Parsons, Lane & Noble can meet with you to determine whether you have a legitimate legal claim. Contact our firm to schedule a free consultation.