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Missed or Delayed Diagnosis

January 20, 2016

Missed diagnosis and delayed diagnosis are two of the most common (and often most damaging) types of medical malpractice. Studies find 40% of medical malpractice involves a missed or delay in diagnosis.

Testing errors, not ordering correct tests, improperly analyzing tests, incorrectly assessing symptoms, or neglecting to follow up on abnormal test results cause serious injury.

Not providing correct medical treatment promptly may be the difference between life, paralysis, or even death with many disorders, including an infection in the spine (epidural abscess) or a cancer. Time is of the essence. Patients affected by a ticking-time-bomb medical disorder are unaware of it because their doctor or medical facility forgot to inform and alert them. Under Michigan law, a patient injured by a missed or delayed diagnosis may have a legal right to reimbursement for resulting harms and losses.

Here is an example of a recent injury where we helped the patient get reimburses for harms and losses:

JeMesha, age 21, visits her primary care provider, a nurse-midwife, for annual physical examinations and Pap smear. The results are normal. The next year, JeMesha returns for an annual physical and Pap smear. The test, however, is abnormal because glandular cells are found, a dangerous pre-cancer of the cervix (the lower narrow part of the uterus). The nurse-midwife and family care facility fail to notify JeMesha of the abnormal result and do not start medical treatment. To add insult to injury, the nurse-midwife sees JeMesha two more times that year and withholds mention of the abnormal result.

With no treatment, the abnormal cells on JeMesha’s cervix multiply, grow to be cancer, and invade nearby tissues. The next Pap smear a year later finds the glandular cells have become cervical cancer. It has also spread because of the lengthy delay, such that no medical treatment can salvage JeMesha’s reproductive system.  Cancer surgeons remove her cervix and uterus to save her life, and the healthcare errors deny JeMesha every child she could ever have.

In a missed or delayed diagnosis case, a key requirement is proving negligence. In other words, the patient must prove a reasonable doctor would not have missed the diagnosis and acting timely would have prevented harm. Another important requirement is specifying the precise harm the malpractice itself caused. Specifically, proving harm occurred beyond an unavoidable consequence the disorder and its medical treatment.

If your loved one recently suffered injury or death resulting from a possible missed or delayed diagnosis, you must act quickly. Michigan law does a poor job protecting people injured by medical professionals and any delay seeking legal help can mean losing your rights forever. Contact us or another experienced medical malpractice attorney right away