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Is a delayed diagnosis grounds for medical malpractice?

When you are injured or unwell, health care providers are paid to use their knowledge to identify and treat your ailment. If the provider fails these duties and your condition worsens as a result, you likely have grounds for a medical malpractice claim.

Many of these claims include cases of misdiagnosis, delayed diagnosis or treatment errors. But, when is the fault for these mistakes placed on a care provider?

What makes delayed diagnosis an act of medical malpractice?

The key to a making a valid claim over medical malpractice has to do with whether the doctor or health care provider was negligent in handling your condition and if that negligence led to more suffering.

For example, Hodgkin lymphoma symptoms share characteristics with many minor ailments, such as the common cold or flu. If a healthcare provider fails to diagnose this cancer in the early stages, the cancer will likely progress. At stage 4, this cancer may not be curable and has a five-year survival rate of 65 percent. However, delaying or misdiagnosing this illness to the point that it becomes deadly is only medical malpractice if the doctor did not act in a reasonably skillful and competent manner while evaluating the condition of the patient.

How can I tell if a doctor should have diagnosed me earlier?

If a doctor who shares the same specialty would have correctly diagnosed a person exhibiting the same or similar symptoms sooner, your doctor was likely negligent in completing a comprehensive diagnosis or in operating and/or reading tests accurately.

How can I prove fault?

If you believe that your health care provider was negligent in properly diagnosing your condition early on, it’s important to keep documentation of your visits, the tests and the recommendations you received.

Contacting a medical malpractice attorney to discuss the events surrounding your case can explain whether your rights were violated and how to take legal action to secure them. A lawyer can also help you collect hospital and doctor’s visit records, audio of emergency calls, an investigation of the supplies and practices used and more to help prove your claim.

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