A delayed or missed diagnosis (or misdiagnosis) can have a devastating impact on a patient’s life. It can result in the worsening of a condition or disease, leading to painful, long-lasting, and life-altering complications, and, in some cases, death.
Delayed diagnosis can be grounds for a medical malpractice claim, which is a lawsuit against someone who treated (or failed to treat) you, including a physician, nurse, midwife, technician, or hospital worker. Medical malpractice claims can also be filed against a hospital itself.
A doctor or other health professional will be found liable if they are negligent and if their negligence caused the person’s injury. In other words, if there was proper care, the person would have probably been treated promptly and avoided the injury.
Examples of Delayed Diagnosis Leading to Serious Injury
Missed diagnosis of infection or missed diagnosis of cancer are two clear examples of actionable missed diagnosis cases.
We’ve previously blogged about several Toronto children who were seriously injured after doctors failed to diagnose a Strep A infection. In all three cases, the children (who ranged in age from 2.5 years old to 11 years old) presented at the emergency room with fever and flu-like symptoms. In all the cases, doctors informed the parents that their child’s diagnosis was the flu and were told, in at least one case, that what should be done is Tylenol and rest.
In all three cases, the children developed sepsis, which seriously affected their organs. The parents of one of the children were informed that their son had been “within seconds of not surviving” after they re-attended the emergency room following an initial diagnosis of flu. Another one of the other children had her left arm amputated above the elbow after spending a week on life support and seventeen days in the ICU.
In a more recent tragedy, a young mother died of a Strep A infection just days after giving birth. Following delivery, the woman’s husband said that she was short of breath, tired, and bloated, and wanted pain relief. This then escalated and the woman developed a fever and was put on antibiotics. She was eventually moved into the ICU where she was sedated and treated with more antibiotics, but where she, unfortunately, later died of sepsis.
In addition to Strep A, other diseases and conditions that are commonly misdiagnosed are:
- Heart Attack;
Establishing a Claim
In order to succeed with a delayed diagnosis claim (or misdiagnosis claim), the plaintiff (i.e. injured person bringing the claim, or that person’s family) must:
- Establish that the conduct of the relevant medical professional fell below the standard of care that the patient was entitled to receive; and
- The negligence of that medical professional caused or contributed to the patient’s injury.
Negligence in a medical context means that the medical professional either did something they should not have done, or failed to do something they ought to have done (as measured against the expected, reasonable treatment which should have been provided in the same circumstances).
It can be difficult to establish negligence, and delayed diagnosis cases are both very complex and challenging to prosecute. These cases often involve very technical questions of both medicine and law. It is very important that the lawyer that you choose to represent you is knowledgeable in both fields.
How Can a Medical Malpractice Lawyer Help?
At Sommers Roth & Elmaleh, our firm has been successfully representing patients and families affected by delayed diagnosis for more than 40 years. We are one of the oldest and most established medical malpractice firms in Canada. Our compassionate and highly skilled medical malpractice lawyers regularly help our clients navigate the often overwhelming medical-legal system.
We have helped many patients and families who have been affected by complications arising from failure to diagnose and/or delayed diagnosis, including:
If you believe you have been injured or have had your life significantly impacted by a delayed diagnosis or failure to diagnose, contact Sommers Roth & Elmaleh. Depending on the circumstances, you and your family may be entitled to significant compensation for your injuries. This compensation includes damages in recognition of injuries suffered, damages for financial losses or expenses resulting from the injury, future care costs, and money for the purchase of any medical equipment or supplies needed following the injury.
At Sommers Roth & Elmaleh, we offer compassionate and knowledgeable guidance on every aspect of a medical malpractice claim, and have helped clients from all across Canada, including Ontario, Alberta, British Columbia, Saskatchewan, and Newfoundland. Call us at 1-416-961-1212 or contact us online for a free consultation.
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