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Delayed Diagnosis

Delayed Diagnosis Requires Help from a Cook County Medical Malpractice Lawyer

Many medical malpractice lawsuits stem from delayed diagnosis or misdiagnosis of an illness or injury. When a diagnostic error leads to delayed treatment or no treatment at all, a patient can suffer irreparable harm and could even die. But in order for delay or failure to diagnose to be viewed legally as medical malpractice, the injured victim’s Cook County medical malpractice lawyer must prove the error is a result of negligence.

Delayed diagnoses often occur when a doctor fails to order lab work, colonoscopies or breast imaging in a timely fashion. Failure to diagnose happens when a doctor completely misses the connection between symptoms and a disease, resulting in no medical action being taken at all.

Evidence that Proves Medical Malpractice

In any negligence-based malpractice case, your attorney must prove several points, all in the proper order.

  • The doctor and patient had a legal relationship, and the injured person (you) is owed a legal duty of care. This “high professional duty” comes from the fact that doctors must undergo eight or more years of training to have the appropriate medical knowledge and skills expected of a reasonably competent physician.
  • The doctor breached that duty in making a mistake by not diagnosing your illness promptly through either a delay in correctly assessing the disease or outright failure to appraise the medical condition.
  • You were significantly harmed by this doctor’s breach of duty and suffered a more serious illness that would have been prevented had you been properly diagnosed in time.
  • Your more serious medical condition is a direct result of the doctor’s diagnostic delay or failure.

Failures or delays in diagnosis arise from the following common errors that could be the result of negligence on the part of the doctor:

  • The attending physician if you are in a trauma center, or your family doctor in his or her office, fails to order the proper tests or screenings
  • The specialist doctor who reads the test data misreads or misinterprets its results
  • If you are seeing a doctor for the first time, he or she doesn’t spend enough time asking about your medical history or personal habits that could be diagnostic clues, such as risk factors you may have that might point to a medical condition or family history that might lead to diseases that run in your family.

Any good doctor can occasionally make a reasonable diagnostic error. This is not considered malpractice. But if incompetence or negligence led to the breach of his or her professional duty, the chances that malpractice may be present are stronger.

Diagnostic Malpractice: Damages and Illinois’ Statute of Limitations

Recoverable damages in an Illinois medical malpractice claim include:

  • All medical bills incurred by the victim for treating the disease, including disability and expenses associated with treatment
  • Lost wages and benefits for the entire time you live with the damage caused by the misdiagnosis
  • Pain and suffering
  • Wrongful death damages that may be due to surviving family members if the diagnostic error led to the death of the patient.

There is no cap (limit) on compensatory damages for medical malpractice, and punitive damages are not available.

The statute of limitations for filing a medical malpractice case in Illinois ranges from two to four years from the date the diagnostic error occurred: [§ 735 ILCS 5/13-212]. There might be some exceptions that could extend that time limit that your Cook County medical malpractice lawyer can best explain.

If you have suffered injury due to a doctor’s delay or failure to diagnose a serious disease, Buttafuoco and Associates’ experienced diagnostic injury attorneys offer a free consultation. Contact us anytime by calling 1-800-NOW-HURT or fill out our online contact form.