Legal Guide

Delayed Diagnosis vs. Failure to Diagnose: Who Can Be Held Liable?

Under New York personal injury law, a number of situations can constitute a personal injury claim. One of those situations is delayed diagnosis, a type of medical malpractice where a medical professional fails to diagnose properly. Generally, medical practitioners are held to higher standards of care; therefore, a deviation from those standards can mean medical malpractice lawsuits.

This article looks in-depth into what delayed diagnosis is about and how it differs from failure to diagnose. Furthermore, we will consider some examples of delayed diagnosis and who can be held liable for it in New York.

Delayed Diagnosis Explained

Delayed diagnosis is a medical malpractice claim that arises from a doctor or another medical professional not diagnosing a patient properly and early. While the patient may eventually be diagnosed later on, a delay in diagnosis could have led to additional injuries or complications. Medical practitioners who may find themselves facing such lawsuits include psychiatrists, doctors, and other types of healthcare workers, facilities, and providers.

Meanwhile, in delayed diagnosis claims, the medical practitioner’s failure to diagnose may not have directly caused the patient’s injuries. However, a proper and timely diagnosis could have prevented the patient’s disease from becoming more serious or from even occurring at all.

Generally, delayed diagnosis is part of medical misdiagnosis, which refers to the incorrect diagnosis of a patient. In common misdiagnosis’, a doctor may have incorrectly diagnosed a patient – like diagnosing the wrong part of a patient’s body. Delayed diagnosis, however, is typically associated with physicians missing a diagnosis they should have been able to detect.

The Difference Between Delayed Diagnosis and Failure to Diagnose

Failure to diagnose is different from delayed diagnosis in that, in the former, the doctor failed to determine the patient’s ailment properly. In claims involving failure to diagnose, the doctor completely failed to diagnose an existing condition properly.

For example, let us say a patient is suffering from various symptoms. Failure to diagnose comes in when the doctor does not connect the symptoms with the underlying condition. This could lead to an unnecessary and preventable progression of the patient’s injury or illness.

Common Examples of Delayed Diagnosis

Different types of medical treatment delays can serve as a basis for a delayed diagnosis claim. They include:

  • There were laboratory test errors, and these caused a delay in a patient’s medical treatment
  • A person went to their doctor for a routine checkup, and the doctor missed a condition that needed urgent medical attention
  • A specialist misdiagnosed the condition of a patient, which led to a delay in treatment
  • An individual discussed their symptoms with their primary care physician, who failed to accurately diagnose the condition or refer the patient to a specialist

Delayed Diagnosis Claims: Who Can Be Held Liable?

Under New York personal injury law, individuals and organizations may be held liable for a patient’s injuries. Generally, this includes the party that breached their duty of care and directly caused the patient’s injuries or illness.

However, determining who to hold liable in these cases can be hard, particularly since medical malpractice claims involve several parties. For example, a nurse and a physician may have been negligent, thus causing the patient’s injury; then, they share liability. Overall, parties that can be held liable in delayed diagnosis claims include:

  • Nurses
  • Hospitals
  • General practitioners
  • Clerical staff
  • Chiropractors
  • Surgeons
  • Psychiatrists
  • Gynecologists
  • Dentists

Conclusion: Consequences for Delayed Diagnoses

“Delayed diagnosis cases become personal injury cases when they result in the patient’s physical, mental, or emotional injury – or property damage,” says Attorney John H. Fisher of The New York Injury & Malpractice Law Firm, P.C.. If you have suffered due to a delayed diagnosis in New York, you can file a claim or lawsuit to get a monetary damages award.

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