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Philadelphia Med Mal & Birth Injury Lawyer / Blog / Medical Malpractice / Delayed Diagnosis Claims in Medical Malpractice Explained

Delayed Diagnosis Claims in Medical Malpractice Explained


When you or a loved one are sick or injured, you rely on medical professionals to diagnose the problem. If they fail to recognize the problem within a reasonable time and you or a loved one sustains harm as a result, you may be compensated through a medical malpractice claim.

Call Philadelphia medical malpractice lawyer Heidi Villari at 267-388-9429 for help with your medical malpractice lawsuit. Ms. Villari has over 20 years of experience prosecuting medical malpractice cases. She is thoroughly familiar with the standard of care of medical professionals, and can tell you whether your doctor failed to meet that standard of care and was negligent in delaying your diagnosis.

What Is Delayed Diagnosis Malpractice?

A delayed diagnosis is a diagnosis that is not made in time to effectively treat the injury or condition, causing the patient harm. In order to form the basis of a medical malpractice suite, the delay must be unreasonable and the harm irreversible.

Delayed Diagnosis vs Misdiagnosis

Misdiagnosis may result in a delay of accurate diagnosis, but is different in that a medical professional makes an error, diagnosing a condition incorrectly and exposing the patient to procedures or medicines for that condition that the patient does not need and that in fact may cause harm.

Delayed Diagnosis & Medical Malpractice

Medical professionals have a duty to accurately and timely diagnose an injury or condition. If they cannot diagnose an injury or condition for whatever reason, they are professionally bound to recommend a second opinion or a specialist. If they fail to do so and diagnosis and treatment is delayed, causing harm to the patient, that may be medical malpractice.

Can You Sue for a Delayed Diagnosis?

Yes, you can file a medical malpractice lawsuit if the medical professional failed to adhere to the standard of care in delaying your diagnosis, causing you irreparable harm. You can also file a medical malpractice lawsuit against a healthcare provider who delayed diagnosis of your loved one’s condition, causing wrongful death.

Causes of a Delayed Diagnosis

A delayed diagnosis occurs under the following circumstances, among others:

  • The patient reports symptoms that the doctor dismisses
  • Test results were lost
  • Tests were improperly administered
  • Test results were incorrectly analyzed
  • A medical professional fails to notice something is wrong
  • A medical professional notices something is wrong but fails to order further tests
  • A medical professional fails to refer a patient to a specialist

Many times a delayed diagnosis does not cause a patient harm, or the harm is negligible or reversible with the correct diagnosis and treatment. However, there are medical conditions and injuries that, if left untreated due to a delay in diagnosis, can result in serious and irreparable harm.

For example, if there is a delay in diagnosing a heart condition because a doctor failed to order the necessary tests, that patient might ultimately have to have surgery instead of managing their heart condition through medication or lifestyle changes. Delaying diagnosis of a stroke could lead to brain damage or death.

Proving a Delayed Diagnosis

If you have been irreversibly harmed due to a delay in diagnosis of your condition, you can take legal action and hold the medical professionals accountable. There are four elements you must prove In order to prove you suffered as a result of a delayed diagnosis:

There was a Doctor-Patient Relationship Between You and the Defendant Medical Professional

This relationship is established once you see a doctor or other medical professional and they examine and treat you. This element of your medical malpractice claim is easily proven by your medical records.

A Medical Professional Failed to Abide by the Standard of Care

“Standard of care” is the term used to describe how medical professionals are supposed to care for their patients. In short, if the majority of other medical professionals would have acted differently when presented with your case, this medical professional may have breached their duty to you.

A Medical Professional’s Negligence Caused You Irreversible Harm

The delay in diagnosis must have caused your injuries. For example, if your cancer diagnosis was delayed and the cancer spread, requiring more radical treatment than if it had been timely diagnosed, the delay clearly caused you harm.

The Injuries You Suffered by the Delayed Diagnosis Resulted in Specific Damages

Damages commonly take the form of lost wages or medical expenses, and may take the form of emotional damage especially in a wrongful death medical malpractice case. You can count on Philadelphia medical malpractice lawyer Heidi Villari to help you determine what your damages are.

What a Medical Malpractice Lawyer Does

A medical malpractice lawyer evaluates your case, investigates the facts leading to your harm, determines whether the medical professional(s) involved were negligent, and determines whether their negligence caused your harm. A medical malpractice lawyer will also determine whether the hospital or other medical institution should be sued as well.

Your medical malpractice lawyer will fight for you against the hospital and insurance company’s team of lawyers, who are on the defense and trying to disprove your allegations of negligence. They may try to place blame on you for failing to report symptoms, or claim that your harm was due to a preexisting condition, not to the actions of the defendants.

Philadelphia medical malpractice lawyer Heidi Villari knows all of their tricks, and can help you prosecute an effective malpractice case against these powerful defendants.

Contact a Medical Malpractice Lawyer

Medical malpractice claims are subject to a statute of limitations in Pennsylvania. A medical malpractice plaintiff has two years from the date the cause of action accrues to file suit.

Contact Heidi Villari to discuss your delayed diagnosis medical malpractice case free of charge. Call 267-388-9429 today.

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