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Can a delayed diagnosis be considered a wrongful death?

Every year thousands of people are given the wrong diagnosis. Some of these people will experience only mild to moderate symptoms with no lasting effects; however, some people could be seriously harmed and even lose their life.

A significant percentage of wrongful death claims involve medical malpractice on part of a delayed diagnosis of a medical condition, illness, or injury. When a doctor, or other medical professional, makes an error that involves a delayed or incorrect diagnosis, or no treatment altogether, the patient could become worse and eventually die. However, this type of error does not automatically granted the right to families to file and win a wrongful death case.

Proving a Delayed Diagnosis Wrongful Death

Under most state tort laws, health care providers are not legally required to take responsibility for a diagnostic error. This means it is up to the patient, his or her family, or a lawyer to prove three elements to recover monetary compensation from a delayed diagnosis wrongful death claim. These elements are as follows:

  1. A relationship between the medical provider and the patient existed.
  2. The medical provider failed to adhere to their standard of care and made a negligent action, which led to improper treatment or a delay in diagnosis.
  3. The negligent action caused the patient further harm and resulted in their death.

The last two elements are enough to substantiate medical malpractice which generally allows victims, or beneficiaries, to file a claim.

How Negligence is Proved

A delay in diagnosis is not usually enough evidence on its own to prove negligence occurred. This is because it is possible for a medical provider to have used reasonable care and still make an error in diagnosis. A lawyer, like a wrongful death lawyer Phoenix, AZ trusts,must be able to show that the medical provider who was responsible for the diagnosis of a patient acted incompetently. Doing so is not always easy, and will require a swift investigation of the case. Without a lawyer, there is a good chance that you will receive less than what you deserve, if anything at all.

A lawyer has the resources to hire expert witnesses who can analyze the actions of the medical provider and make a deducted decision on whether or not they exercised competency and care during the diagnostic process. This may involve an evaluation and systematic approach of the methods used by the medical provider to determine if the actions were truly negligent or rather an accidental error.

A delayed diagnosis is not limited to a failure in making the right diagnosis based on medical testing. It can also include:

  • Ignoring symptoms and risk factors
  • Failing to order diagnostic tests such as blood work, CT scans, MRIs, etc.
  • Misreading lab or test results
  • Failing to share the results of a test with the patient or other medical providers

A delay in diagnosis has the potential to complicate treatments that may have been available, but were no longer at a certain point in time. It is also possible for a patient to undergo treatments like chemotherapy or surgery, of which might have not been necessary had the right diagnosis been made. In worst case scenarios, these errors can be fatal.

When a lawyer believes negligence on part of the doctor caused a wrongful death from a delay in diagnosis, surviving family members may be able to recover compensation. To learn more about your rights as a surviving family member or to get started on your case, please call an attorney.

Thanks to our friends and contributors from Rispoli Law, PLLC for their insight into wrongful death.


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