New Jersey Delayed Diagnosis Lawyers
Medical Malpractice Attorneys for Victims of Delayed Diagnosis throughout NJ
In the field of medicine, proper training and attention may prevent many medical errors that ultimately lead to serious injuries for innocent patients, prompting medical malpractice claims. Nevertheless, system-wide breakdowns and individual failures often lead to slips, accidents, and delayed diagnoses by understaffed and overworked employees, as well as doctors across a vast array of medical specialties. A preventable medical mistake involving delayed diagnosis too frequently leads to life-long disability for many adults and children, as an otherwise treatable condition becomes significantly worse or even fatal. Perhaps you had multiple visits with your doctor before they recognized that your symptoms may be connected to cancer, and you endured months of debilitating treatment that was ultimately ineffective, although it would have been treatable had the cancer been diagnosed earlier. Whether by failing to conduct a thorough examination, arriving at the most obvious conclusion without further investigating potential alternative explanations for your symptoms, or failing to order appropriate tests, a delay in diagnosis can spell permanent consequences for your health and well-being. In the most tragic cases, delayed diagnosis can result in untimely death.
If you believe your injuries may have resulted from delayed diagnosis in New Jersey, there is no doubt that you have legal questions about what happened in your case and whether your delayed diagnosis may constitute medical malpractice. Seeking knowledgeable legal counsel from an experienced medical malpractice attorney is essential when seeking to understand your rights and explore your potential options to achieve justice. If a delay in diagnosing your disease or medical condition allowed your health to deteriorate, and appropriate diagnosis and medical intervention may have prevented the harm that you suffered, you may be entitled to compensation for pain, suffering, past and future medical and treatment costs, and necessary accommodations to support your recovery.
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What does Delayed Diagnosis Mean?
A delayed diagnosis is one that takes too long to make, meaning an unreasonable time elapses between a healthcare provider’s detection of symptoms, identification of the cause of symptoms, and the start of treatment. The delay may be due to failure to order tests, ordering the wrong tests to identify the patient’s condition, a misunderstanding of the patient’s condition, failing to conduct a thorough medical examination or patient history, or failure to identify signs of an underlying disease or health issue. Regardless of the cause, delayed diagnosis can lead to a narrower list of treatment options than would have been available had the diagnosis been made earlier. Sadly, it can also cause a patient permanent injury, extended care, and even death depending on the specific underlying condition.
Typically, when diagnosing a patient’s condition, doctors come to a diagnosis through a process of elimination. They match a patient’s reported symptoms with possible conditions and then list the possibilities from highest to lowest probability. During this process, medical professionals ascertain more information from the patient, examine the patient’s medical history to eliminate or prioritize some possibilities, and order tests to confirm or eliminate the conditions that do not seem appropriate. The purpose of the diagnostic process is to find the one that most readily matches with the patient’s symptoms and history. This is called differential diagnosis. With each step in this vital process, personal or system failures can lead to a delay in arriving at the right diagnosis, which may result in a delay in receiving treatment that costs the patient valuable time to address the problem and begin combating it. In the worst of cases, delayed diagnosis costs the patient their life.
Common Reasons why a Diagnosis is Delayed
Delays diagnosing a patient may be the result of inadequate scheduling, understaffing, ineffective communication, and other disconnects among members of a healthcare team. Doctors quite obviously do not get paid to consult with other doctors, and it typically takes more time to seek a consult, so many simply fail to do so. Other reasons for delayed diagnosis include erroneous lab results due to equipment failure, a healthcare worker’s error, improper test administration, or inaccurate reading of results that ultimately influence the doctor’s diagnosis. Some of the most common contributing factors to delayed diagnosis include:
- Insufficient or inappropriate assessments;
- Lack of proper planning;
- Poor communication between healthcare providers;
- Human error; and
- Lab errors
In addition, emergency room conditions make missed diagnosis more likely, due to the time pressure to make a diagnosis quickly. Rare illnesses or those attributable to certain populations are also more likely to be missed, given the time constraints. Perhaps, for instance, a pathologist noting suspected cancer of a biopsied tumor in a patient’s medical file fails to communicate with the patient’s doctor and that finding gets overlooked. As a result of the delayed diagnosis, the patient suffers further or dies. This is not only a tragic event, but it may also constitute medical malpractice.
When is Delayed Diagnosis Considered Malpractice?
It may be malpractice when a doctor misdiagnoses or fails to diagnose symptoms, which results in improper or delayed medical treatment that prolongs the patient’s condition or even worsens it. Although doctors are fallible and certainly not held to a standard of perfection, there are avoidable and unavoidable mistakes. Malpractice occurs when delayed diagnosis results from avoidable errors, substandard medical practices, and incompetence that is detrimental to the patient. For example, delayed diagnosis may occur by mistaking one condition for another, or not recognizing complications when they arise, which can lead to the patient needing an extended hospital stay or suffering long-lasting injury. Despite the variability among diagnostic error cases, there are certain criteria that must be met for a case to qualify as malpractice.
The main requirements for a delayed diagnosis case to be considered medical medical are:
- A relationship was established between doctor and patient
- The doctor’s actions or inaction did not meet the standard of care
- The patient suffered harm as a result of the physician’s negligence
How do You Prove a Delayed Diagnosis Claim?
A patient harmed by a physician’s delayed diagnosis must prove that the doctor’s delay was an avoidable error, that the doctor’s actions or inaction fell below the standard of care expected of them under the circumstances, and such delayed diagnosis or failure to diagnose caused the patient injury and damages. They must show that their condition failed to make the doctor’s list of probable causes of the symptoms or that further action was not taken to confirm the correct diagnosis. The plaintiff must also distinguish how much of the condition that caused them harm was due to the doctor’s inadequate care and how much was simply the result of the disease or condition that the doctor missed or delayed treating. In other words, the plaintiff must prove the degree to which the condition, injury, or disease was allowed to worsen due to the physician’s negligence or hospital staff’s negligence that contributed to their delayed diagnosis. The measurable difference between the condition with or without the delay is key to establishing causation.
This may be accomplished through a variety of means, including by providing medical expert testimony as to the acceptable standard of care under the circumstances and the doctor’s failure to act in accordance with that standard. Qualified medical experts, medical records, and accompanying evidence should be assembled by a knowledgeable and experienced medical malpractice attorney who is well-versed in the legal complexities of these cases and can successfully prove your claim for the highest possible amount of damages.
Consult an Experienced NJ Delayed Diagnosis Lawyer about Your Malpractice Case Today
If you suspect that a physician caused you greater injury by failing to diagnose your medical condition in New Jersey, it is imperative to seek help from a skilled medical malpractice lawyer as soon as you can. A comprehensive evaluation of your case can uncover instances of medical negligence resulting in your injuries and a legal professional with experience in this area can use this information to formulate the most compelling claim for compensation. Contact the attorneys at Fronzuto Law Group for more information and discuss your next steps today. You can reach us anytime at (973)-435-4551 for answers to your questions and a free evaluation of your case.