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Failure to Diagnose or Failure to Timely Diagnose Cases: The Anatomy of The Case

Like most Americans, when you go to a hospital, especially a very-well known one, you probably place a great deal of trust in the doctors, nurses and other health care providers to properly and timely diagnose whatever may be ailing you. As we are all too often reminded, however, health care providers are not perfect. Sometimes, as in all fields, the very people who have the education, training and experience to diagnose your illness fail to recognize critical signs and symptoms necessary to do just that. As a result, your illness either goes undiagnosed and causes you further injury or is eventually diagnosed at a much later date, well after irreversible injury has occurred. Sadly, the end result of these failures to diagnose or timely diagnose is often devastating or even fatal. When these kinds of mistakes are made, medical negligence often has occurred, and you or your loved ones may have the right to financial compensation.

As a lawyer, proving that a health care provider failed to properly and/or timely diagnose you with a particular illness (for example, cancer) is meticulously challenging process. In every case, our lawyers rely upon and enlist the support of expert medical professionals in various areas of expertise around the country, such as oncology (in a cancer case) or infectious disease (in the case of an unexplained injury caused by infection) to assist in understanding the ins and outs of the medicine. With the help of these experts, in these kinds of cases our lawyers must generally prove that: (1) the health care provider in question did truly fail to diagnose the victim's condition and/or take the necessary steps to refer that patient to a specialist in the right field to facilitate a diagnosis; (2) that the failure of the health care provider to do the above constituted a departure from the standard of care (what a reasonable physician would do in similar circumstances); and (3) that the failure to diagnose or timely diagnose the victim with his/her illness caused him/her to suffer further complications, injuries or death.

Boiled down to its essence, in one of these types of cases, the lawyer must, through medical literature and the testimony of expert witnesses in fields of medicine similar to the defendant health care provider, demonstrate that a reasonable physician, standing in the shoes of the defendant, if given the same type of information, signs, symptoms, medical history of the victim patient, would have been able to correctly diagnose the patient or recognize that the patient needed to be referred to a specialist.

Sadly, in many of these cases, the illness is cancer. In those cases, the failure to timely diagnose the patient often results in the patient going from a probability of surviving the cancer had the diagnose been made timely to a prognosis of death as a result of the delay in diagnosis. In these and other instances, a patient and/or his family may be entitled to recover damages including the pain and suffering experienced by the victim while living, past and future medical expenses (where applicable), loss of wages, and for the emotional trauma experienced by the family attributable to the loss of a loved one.

If you or a loved one has been the victim of an improper or untimely diagnosis, call the lawyers at STSW for a free consultation.

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