For many medical conditions, a timely diagnosis determines the course — and even the outcome — of treatment. We trust that doctors and other health care professionals have the education, skills, and commitment needed to diagnose an illness or injury without delay so that the appropriate treatment can begin. When there is a delay in diagnosis it can put the patient’s health in further jeopardy, resulting in additional suffering or even death. If you believe that you were injured by a delayed diagnosis, or that a family member died because of a delayed diagnosis, you may be entitled to compensation. The Orlando delayed diagnosis attorneys at Bailey Fisher PLLC are committed to ensuring that victims of a delayed diagnosis are fully compensated and that the negligent parties are held accountable.
Delayed Diagnosis Is More Common Than You Realize
Johns Hopkins Medicine published an article in 2013 that concluded “In reviewing 25 years of U.S. malpractice claim payouts, Johns Hopkins researchers found that diagnostic errors — not surgical mistakes or medication overdoses — accounted for the largest fraction of claims, the most severe patient harm, and the highest total of penalty payouts.” Unfortunately, not much has changed since that study was conducted. A more recent study published in Diagnosis, the Official Journal of the Society to Improve Diagnosis in Medicine, found that diagnostic errors that led to death or permanent disability were most common when diagnosing cancers (37.8%), vascular events (22.8%), and infections (13.5%). That same study concluded that half of the most-severe harm cases ended in patient death and the other half resulted in permanent disability. Even more disturbing is the conclusion that more than 85 percent of the misdiagnosed cases were caused by a failure of clinical judgment – in other words, a physician or other healthcare provider caused the failure.
Is a Delayed Diagnosis Malpractice?
Doctors are not expected to be perfect. Genuine mistakes do happen; however, physicians and others in the healthcare field are held to a higher standard when evaluating a mistake that caused, or contributed, to harm to a patient. Florida Statute 766.102(1) governs medical malpractice in the State of Florida. That statute defines the standard of care for health care providers as “that level of care, skill, and treatment which, in light of all relevant surrounding circumstances, is recognized as acceptable and appropriate by reasonably prudent similar health care providers.” In layman’s terms, the question is: Did the doctor do what another doctor with the same education and experience would reasonably have done in the same situation? It can be a tricky question to answer, typically requiring expert testimony to establish. Some examples, however, of actions or omissions that may be used to prove a delayed diagnosis in a medical malpractice lawsuit include:
- Failing to treat a patient in a timely manner in an emergency room
- Failing to order indicated or necessary diagnostic tests.
- Ordering the wrong diagnostic test or lab work.
- Misinterpreting test results or imaging studies.
- Failing to act on abnormal or inconclusive test results.
- Failing to gather and evaluate pertinent medical information.
- Failing to recognize signs and symptoms of serious illness or injury in a timely manner and respond as quickly as reasonably possible
Understanding a Delayed Diagnosis Lawsuit
Delayed diagnosis can be the basis for a medical malpractice lawsuit in Florida if the delay caused damages that could reasonably have been avoided if a proper assessment had been made and appropriate steps taken to treat the patient. Sometimes, even significant delays in proper diagnosis and treatment will not meaningfully affect the patient’s outcome or cause damages that would not have occurred even if the proper diagnosis had been made at the earliest reasonable time. This is true in some delayed diagnosis of cancer cases where the cancer is so advanced at the time the first symptoms manifest, or by the time the patient first presents to the doctor, that the disease process had already reached a “tipping point” and damages are unavoidable and would not be made appreciably worse because of delay in diagnosis or treatment. But the only way to know whether a delayed diagnosis will give rise to a viable medical malpractice claim is to consult a lawyer who understands the often-complicated laws that relate to the issues of liability, causation, and damages in Florida medical malpractice cases. The lawyers at Bailey Fisher are very familiar with the medical and legal issues involved in situations involving delayed diagnosis and can determine if you have a case.
If you were injured, or lost a loved one, because of a delayed diagnosis it is imperative that you consult with an experienced medical malpractice attorney immediately. The statute of limitations for medical malpractice claims in Florida is two years, meaning you must file a lawsuit within two years from the date on which you discovered or should have discovered that you were a victim of malpractice. Given the complex nature of medical malpractice, the earlier you involve an experienced attorney the better your odds are of succeeding in a lawsuit.
If your delayed diagnosis lawsuit is successful, you may be entitled to compensation for both economic and non-economic damages. Economic damages are things such as your medical bills and lost wages while non-economic damages cover the pain and suffering you experienced because of the delayed diagnosis. If a delayed diagnosis caused the death of a family member, you may be entitled to file a wrongful death lawsuit if you are a spouse, child, parent, or a blood relative or adoptive sibling who was “partly or wholly dependent on the decedent for support or services.” As a claimant, you could be entitled to compensation for things such as the lost earnings of the decedent, loss of companionship, and emotional pain and suffering you experienced.
Contact Orlando Delayed Diagnosis Attorneys Today
If you (or a family member) were the victim of a delayed diagnosis you could be entitled to compensation for the physical and emotional injuries caused by that delay. Having an experienced Florida medical malpractice attorney on your side is the key to ensuring that you are justly compensated by the responsible party (or parties). At Bailey Fisher, we are dedicated to zealously advocating on behalf of victims who were injured or died because a doctor or health care provider failed to make a timely diagnosis.
Call us at 407-628-2929 or submit our online form today. One of our experienced Florida medical malpractice attorneys will evaluate your case for free and advise you on the next steps.