Is Failure to Diagnose/Delayed Diagnosis Considered Malpractice?

If you become ill or injured, you need a doctor who can reliably diagnose and treat your condition. But if the doctor is negligent, you may become a victim of medical malpractice.

A failure to diagnose or a delay in diagnosing an injury or illness is a common medical mistake that can cause serious harm and even death. A delayed diagnosis or failure to diagnose a potentially life-threatening or life-altering condition can be devastating for patients and their loved ones. According to a recent study looking at medical malpractice claims across a ten year time frame, more than 60% of claims involved misdiagnosis of cancers, infections, and vascular conditions.

The Indianapolis missed diagnosis lawyers at Wagner Reese have a successful track record of pursuing cases involving delayed and failed diagnoses on behalf of our clients and their families. Our skilled legal team can help identify whether your physician’s negligence is considered medical malpractice under Indiana law and work with you to pursue compensation.

 Does Failure to Diagnose Qualify as Malpractice in Indiana?

When a doctor fails to diagnose an illness or injury, the patient may suffer permanent damage by missing out on timely treatments for potentially curable illnesses.

This negligence could give you grounds to file a medical malpractice claim. In some cases, failure to diagnose can result in death. If a correct diagnosis could have delayed death, the victim’s loved ones can file a medical malpractice claim on the victim’s behalf. 

However, the medical malpractice claim process in Indiana is complex. Under the Medical Malpractice Act, you must have your case reviewed by a medical review panel of three doctors to determine if the health provider acted negligently. Their opinion is admissible in court, and they may call its members to testify. Since the process is time-consuming, you should understand how doctors can misdiagnose or delay a diagnosis before filing a medical malpractice claim.

Reasons Doctors Misdiagnose or Delay a Diagnosis

Misdiagnoses are tragically common. Research suggests that diagnostic errors affect up to 12 million Americans every year, and an estimated 40,000-80,000 people die from delays or failure to diagnose medical conditions. Some of the common causes of misdiagnoses include:

Overlooked Symptoms:

Doctors can miss common illnesses like heart attacks and strokes because symptoms such as fatigue develop slowly. Similar symptoms are difficult to identify, even for trained medical staff. Back pain, indigestion, and nausea signal an impending heart attack – a symptom shared with many other less serious illnesses, such as common stomach viruses.

Inconclusive Test Results:

Inaccurate test results are one of the top causes of misdiagnosis. The equipment used to diagnose you can malfunction, and blurry pictures could lead to a misinterpretation by radiologists and other physicians, causing them to make mistakes that result in surgical errors.

Not Referring to a Specialist:

If your doctor fails to refer you to a specialist when all symptoms and test results indicate they should do so, this could be an example of medical malpractice.

Lack of Communication Between Medical Offices:

For a patient to receive special medical care outside of their primary care physician’s office, all documentation, lab results, and test results must be copied and communicated between the doctors.

If a doctor’s files are misplaced or not shared between practices, they do not have up-to-date knowledge of a patient’s health. This can lead to malpractice by failing to diagnose an illness or injury properly.

Statutes of Limitations for Medical Malpractice Claims in Indiana

Medical malpractice claims in Indiana are handled via a special legal process involving filing a complaint with the Indiana Department of Insurance and meeting with a medical review panel.

According to Indiana malpractice law, a patient can file a medical malpractice claim two years after the alleged act of medical malpractice occurred, except for incidents that involve minors under six, who can file up until their eighth birthday.

Get Compensation for a Misdiagnosis or a Failure to Diagnose

If you suspect that your illness or condition progressed due to a misdiagnosis or a missed diagnosis, we want you to know that you have the right to take legal action. Our malpractice lawyers can help you determine whether your doctor’s misdiagnosis or failure to diagnose your illness was negligent by collecting and analyzing your medical records and working with qualified medical experts.

Don’t hesitate to contact the legal team at Wagner Reese for a free and confidential consultation. Our medical malpractice lawyers can help you understand your options for seeking recovery.