When most people experience pain or other medically significant symptoms, they go to the doctor to find out what is wrong. They trust that the doctor will evaluate their symptoms, perform any necessary exams and tests, and determine a diagnosis. Once the patient receives a diagnosis, treatment can begin. However, this is not always what happens. Some people go to the doctor and do not receive a diagnosis in a timely manner. What happens if a doctor fails to diagnose a condition or takes too long to diagnose the condition and the patient gets worse? Is delayed diagnosis considered medical malpractice?
Understanding the Four Elements of Medical Malpractice
Although terms like “medical negligence” or “substandard medical care” are sometimes used as if they are synonymous with “medical malpractice,” medical malpractice involves more than poor medical care. A patient, or the surviving family of a deceased patient, has a valid medical malpractice claim when four elements are present:
Duty – The doctor, specialist, or other medical provider owed a “duty of care” to the patient. This criterion is met by the formation of a doctor-patient relationship.
Breach of duty – A medical provider breaches his or her duty of care if the medical services that he or she provided did not meet the “medical standard of care.” This is a key element in most failure to diagnose or delayed diagnosis cases. To know whether a doctor’s failure to diagnose or misdiagnosis constitutes negligent medical care, the doctor’s actions must be compared to the actions that a doctor of similar expertise and experience would have taken in the same situation. In many medical malpractice cases, a doctor’s actions are compared to relevant medical texts and accepted practices. Did the doctor order the appropriate medical tests or refer the patient to the appropriate specialist? Did the doctor deviate from the norm when treating the patient? A medical expert may also weigh in on whether the doctor’s actions met the medical standard of care.
Causation -The next element in a medical malpractice case is that the doctor’s actions caused the patient some type of injury or harm. For example, if a person with cancer does not get a diagnosis in time, his or her condition may worsen quickly. The patient may need to undergo much more extensive cancer treatment than he or she would have needed if the condition was diagnosed sooner.
Damages – The final element in a medical malpractice case is damages. The patient must have experienced some type of financial harm because of the negligent medical care. Damages in a failure to diagnose or delayed diagnosis malpractice claim often include additional medical bills and lost wages from missed work.
Contact an Elk Grove Village Medical Malpractice Lawyer
If you or a loved one were not diagnosed with a medical condition until the condition deteriorated, this may be an example of medical malpractice. To discuss your case with a skilled Bensenville medical malpractice attorney, call [[title]] at [[phone]]. Schedule your free, confidential initial consultation today.