People rely on doctors to diagnose and treat their illnesses and diseases and expect the best care when choosing a provider. Unfortunately, not all doctors provide the best care, and mistakes (especially those related to diagnosis) are not uncommon.
Accurately diagnosing someone’s condition is the primary job of most doctors and specialists. Those who fail to diagnose their patients correctly put them at risk for permanent damage or death.
Failure to diagnose an illness or disease often serves as grounds for a medical malpractice lawsuit if a patient suffers harm. If you suffered harm because your Chicago-area doctor failed to diagnose your condition correctly, a Chicago medical malpractice lawyer from Zayed Law Offices can evaluate your case and determine your eligibility to bring a lawsuit.
Contact us today for a free case review to share the details of your medical condition and learn more about how we can help.
Table of Contents
What Is a Failure to Diagnose?
Failure to diagnose is a serious medical error that falls under the general umbrella of misdiagnosis. A doctor who fails to diagnose a patient with the correct illness or disease has made a mistake in their diagnosis or not made any diagnosis at all.
Delayed diagnosis of an illness or disease and the failure to recognize symptoms of an existing condition are also wrapped up in the failure to diagnose. In some cases, doctors correctly diagnose one disease or illness but fail to diagnose coexisting illnesses or diseases.
Diagnostic errors that medical malpractice lawyers and the medical community often lump together with the failure to diagnose include:
- Failure to screen for a specific illness or disease
- Failure to refer a patient to a specialist
- Poor reading of diagnostic tests
- Failure to learn about a patient’s symptoms and get a complete medical history
- Failure to investigate causes of a patient’s symptoms
Negligence Leads to the Failure to Diagnose
Doctors fail to diagnose certain diseases and conditions for various reasons. When the failure to diagnose occurs because of medical negligence, doctors open themselves to a medical malpractice claim. Actions and inaction that qualify as medical negligence can happen throughout one or more interactions with a doctor.
Patients experience symptoms of an illness or disease, so they visit their doctor to get a diagnosis. In some cases, patients see their doctor for a regular check-up. In either instance, doctors must conduct or order proper tests to make an accurate diagnosis and recommend the proper treatment quickly.
Sometimes, negligent doctors fail to screen high-risk patients; they attribute symptoms to obesity, high blood pressure, smoking, drinking, or other issues. Other times, doctors order the wrong tests for the symptoms their patient reports. Failure to provide the proper screenings and lab tests often leads to the failure to diagnose.
Analysis of Test Results
Some doctors order all the right tests, including blood panels, urinalysis, and other diagnostic tools. However, they must examine and analyze the results to make an accurate diagnosis. Busy doctors with demanding schedules sometimes scan test results, mix up their patients, or misinterpret test results. Regardless of the exact source of the mistake, poor analysis of ordered tests leaves patients without the accurate diagnosis they need to receive proper and timely treatment for their illness or disease.
Different illnesses and diseases have different treatments. Patients have multiple treatment options in many cases, especially with early diagnosis. Doctors typically recommend the best option based on lab results and patient history.
With improper testing and/or poor interpretation of test results, doctors sometimes recommend the wrong treatment or do not recommend any treatment at all. Untreated diseases and illnesses can spread throughout the body, causing more damage. In cases involving a terminal disease like cancer, patients do not receive a diagnosis or the treatment they need to survive their condition.
Speaking with patients about their symptoms, test results, and treatment options takes up a good portion of a doctor’s time. Yet, some physicians are not good communicators. Those who do not give their patients information about their condition to make decisions about treatment and care put patients at risk for further damage to their bodies.
The same is true when communication breaks down between departments. If a doctor doesn’t talk to the lab or watch for test results, their patient’s condition could worsen. The failure to communicate easily translates to the failure to diagnose under the right circumstances.
Failure to Diagnose Creates More Danger for Patients
Your doctor might have failed to diagnose your illness or condition, but a medical malpractice claim based on the failure to diagnose must include harm. Fortunately, not all failures have dire consequences. Examples of the harm patients face if they do not get a timely diagnosis of their illness or disease include:
The failure to diagnose an illness or disease is often the first step in a snowball of medical complications. A failed diagnosis means a patient gets no treatment or the wrong treatment for their condition. This can lead to a worsened condition in two ways.
First, some illnesses do not clear up without the proper treatment, and many diseases worsen without treatment. This is especially true of cancer and other diseases that progress in stages.
Second, the wrong treatment can have adverse health effects on patients who receive the treatment but do not need it. Patients who receive the wrong medication or treatment could suffer from organ damage, organ failure, cardiovascular issues, strokes, or other damaging events.
More Aggressive Treatment
When doctors fail to diagnose a disease or illness in its earliest stages, patients often need more aggressive treatment than if they had received their diagnosis on time. A failure to diagnose sometimes leads to a delayed diagnosis, whether a doctor corrects a mistake or a patient obtains a second opinion.
More aggressive treatment is often associated with a delayed cancer diagnosis but can apply to other situations. Consider a situation where a doctor fails to make a cancer diagnosis. The patient continues to experience symptoms and visits another doctor a few months later, only to find out they have cancer. The patient’s cancer has likely spread further, so they need more aggressive treatment to survive.
Perhaps with a correct initial diagnosis, a surgeon could have removed a small tumor and administered small doses of chemotherapy and/or radiation. Now, doctors cannot operate, and the patient must have a much greater dose of chemotherapy and/or radiation for any chance of survival.
If a doctor fails to diagnose an illness or disease, it could mean the difference between whether a patient needs surgery as part of their treatment plan. For example, consider a patient who visits the doctor because of pain somewhere in their body. They ultimately find out they have a broken bone. Their doctor missed the minor fracture on the initial x-rays.
The doctor’s failure to diagnose the fracture led to further damage because the patient did not immobilize their break. The second opinion revealed that the bone healed incorrectly, and surgery is the only option to correct the problem. Many patients can avoid surgical intervention as a treatment option when they receive the correct diagnoses of their injury, illness, or disease from their doctor. To learn more about recovering from surgical errors or mistakes that happen in the surgery room speak with one of our experienced lawyers today.
Significant Treatment Delays
Once a doctor fails to diagnose a patient, they have a limited amount of time to get a diagnosis. A delayed diagnosis means delayed treatment. Each day someone goes without knowing precisely what ails them, is one more day they go without getting the treatment they need.
Surviving the most fatal conditions and diseases often depends on an early diagnosis. Patients who experience major delays in their treatment sometimes do not respond as well, putting them at greater risk for permanent damage or death.
All the dangers of failing to diagnose a patient can lead to death. Diseases and illnesses that worsen can lead to death. Additionally, receiving incorrect, delayed, or unnecessary treatments can have fatal consequences for patients. If you are facing a terminal illness with little chance of survival because your Chicago doctor fails to diagnose you correctly, you must consult an attorney as soon as possible.
Seeking Compensation for Failure to Diagnose
If your doctor failed to diagnose you or your loved one’s illness or disease, and you have suffered losses as a result, Illinois law permits you to seek compensation for damages through a medical malpractice claim. In most cases, you need to file the lawsuit within four years of the failure of your doctor to diagnose, but your lawyer can advise you on the time limit that applies to your case.
You must prove your doctor breached the standard duty of medical care owed to you by failing to follow accepted standards in Chicago’s medical community and the medical community as a whole.
Depending on the exact circumstances that led to the failed diagnosis, your attorney might suggest you name the doctor and the facility where they provide care, potentially involving two insurance companies. If you reach a settlement agreement for your claim or a court rules in your favor, you could receive compensation for damages related to the failure to diagnose your condition.
Each case is different, so it’s impossible to say which damages apply.
Here are examples of common damages that medical malpractice victims receive compensation for:
- Current and future medical treatment costs for your condition and complications related to the failure to diagnose
- Current lost wages and estimated future lost wages for patients who must take time away from work for treatment or cannot return to their job because of their condition
- Cost of long-term health care provided in-home or in a specialized nursing care facility
- Rehabilitation costs, such as physical therapy, occupational therapy, and assistive devices
- Physical pain and suffering from a worsened condition
- Emotional distress from facing preventable death
- Reduced quality and enjoyment of life
- Loss of consortium with a spouse
If you tragically lost a family member to disease or illness because their doctor failed to provide a diagnosis of their condition, you might be eligible for compensation related to your loss. Illinois law permits eligible family members to seek damages by bringing a wrongful death medical malpractice suit against the doctor who failed to diagnose a loved one. Some families receive some damages above and also receive compensation for funeral expenses and cremation or burial costs.
Wrongful death medical malpractice suits also include compensation for damage to relationships from losing a loved one. For example, surviving dependents sometimes receive compensation for loss of parental support and guidance; surviving spouses sometimes receive money for their loss of companionship after losing a partner. Your Chicago failure to diagnose lawyer can answer any questions you have about filing a wrongful death medical malpractice claim.
Wherever You Receive Treatment, Medical Malpractice Might Happen
If you are in Chicago and need a medical procedure, you have many local institutions to choose from, including Advocate Christ Medical Center, Rush University Medical Center, Loyola University Medical Center, University of Chicago Medical Center, NorthShore University HealthSystem-Metro Chicago, and others. Even when you visit a respected healthcare institution that employs the world’s top doctors, mistakes can and do happen.
If you have suffered an injury due to medical malpractice, you can be entitled to damages for medical malpractice. Knowing when you have experienced a medical malpractice injury is hard to determine without expert opinions. Reaching out to a medical malpractice attorney from Zayed Law Offices can guide you in the right direction.
Regardless of how well-known or respected a doctor or medical institution might be, errors still happen. Doctors and hospitals carry medical malpractice insurance specifically to cover the costs associated with mistakes. In the sections that follow, we will cover some general questions you might have about medical malpractice, in addition to how your medical malpractice attorney can help you collect the full damages you deserve.
The Experienced Medical Malpractice Attorneys from Zayed Law Offices Advocate for You
The last thing that you expect when you undergo a medical procedure to solve a problem is to experience an injury. Knowing when your injury is a part of the procedure or a medical error that entitles you to compensation for your associated damages requires knowledge of the procedure and medical malpractice law.
The best way to ensure that you receive the full compensation you are entitled to is working with a medical malpractice attorney as soon as possible after your injury.
The attorneys at Zayed Law Offices are standing by to answer any questions you might have about your medical malpractice case. As we’ll discuss below, never accuse your doctor or healthcare facility of medical malpractice or of harming you.
Doing so can alert the doctor and hospital to your suspicions and lead to evidence being more difficult to collect in favor of your case. To begin, we suggest you request your medical records, which we’ll explore below, then reach out to us at Zayed Law Offices, and we can take it from there for you.
When you call us, the first thing we’ll do is determine if your case fits with our firm and if we can help you with it. If the case is a fit, we’ll discuss payment options and setups, some of which cost you nothing out-of-pocket, as we’ll discuss below.
If we agree to represent you, Zayed Law Offices steps into your shoes and takes over all negotiations and communications for you so that you can focus on recovering from your injuries while we make the most of your damages.
Your Medical Malpractice Damages Should Include Medical Expenses and Lost Earnings
Going through a medical procedure that causes an injury can put your life on hold until you figure out how to address the injury and adapt your lifestyle to it. This can include ongoing medical expenses, as well as a change in the way in which you can work and support your family.
The damages you recover for your medical malpractice case should cover your short-term healthcare costs like emergency room care and related medications, as well as long-term costs like treatment and rehabilitation. Your claim may cover your lost income during your recovery and lost earnings ability.
If your medical malpractice changes how you can work and support your family, you may seek coverage for the difference. We calculate this by determining the impact of your injury on your earnings ability, then measuring that amount from the time of your injury through your working life. Identifying the amount of damage to your earnings ability and work-life that your injury has caused can require additional assessments and exams, as well as medical and occupational expert opinions. Your medical malpractice attorney will have a network of local professionals to refer you to for this information.
The Insurance Company Profits by Denying and Reducing Your Claim
When you want compensation for the damages associated with your medical malpractice injury, you will collect it from an insurance company. Insurance companies are for-profit organizations and generate a profit the same as any other company by maximizing revenues and minimizing costs.
Revenues for an insurance company are the premiums that your doctor and healthcare facility pay for medical malpractice coverage. The costs to an insurance company are what they pay in claims to injured persons like you.
The insurance company will do whatever it can to deny your claim or reduce the amount they pay you. Insurance companies have teams of full-time claim analysts and attorneys working to carefully scrutinize all claims that come in to deny whichever they can.
When a claim is sufficiently accurate, complete, and has enough evidence, the insurance company may have to approve your claim, but they will try and give you as little as possible to save on the amount paid out. Achieving full coverage for your medical malpractice injury requires a complete, accurate application, in addition to enough evidence to require the claim specialists and attorneys of the insurance company to approve.
Your medical malpractice attorney from Zayed Law Offices has the knowledge and experience you need to collect full coverage for your injury while you try to get past your injury.
DID YOUR CHICAGO DOCTOR FAIL TO DIAGNOSE YOUR ILLNESS OR DISEASE?
The skilled legal team at Zayed Law Offices understands the gravity of your situation if your doctor failed to diagnose your condition. Even if your illness or disease is still treatable and you have a favorable long-term prognosis, you have gone through far more physical pain and mental distress than necessary because your doctor made mistakes. Taking legal action after your doctor’s failure to diagnose can provide the funds you need for additional treatment and help with household income if you cannot work during this difficult time.
The empathetic and experienced medical malpractice lawyers at Zayed Law Offices can guide you through the highly complex malpractice claims process while you focus on treatment and recovery. If you live in Chicago or a Chicago physician failed to diagnose you, contact us today online or at (312) 726-1616 for a free case evaluation.
One of our Chicago personal injury lawyers can review your failure to diagnose claim, determine your eligibility for compensation, answer your legal questions, and advise you on your best path forward.
In the following FAQ, we’ll consider common and important questions related to medical malpractice, in addition to the value and benefit that having a medical malpractice attorney from Zayed Law Offices can provide on your claim.
A standard of care applies to the healthcare procedure you are receiving and is the level of reasonable care and quality that a reasonable healthcare practitioner in the shoes of your doctor and/or healthcare facility would apply. This is the minimum level of quality that you can expect when receiving a procedure; what you might call the basic characteristics the procedure will have regardless of which doctor or healthcare facility provides for your care.
Determining the standard of care for your particular procedure may require additional opinions from medical experts. These experts assess your medical records and compare them against the standard of care, and when they identify a violation and an injury occurred, you are entitled to damages.
Your medical malpractice attorney from Zayed Law Offices will have a network of local medical professionals to provide the insight you need to determine what went wrong with your procedure and what damages you are entitled to for your injury. Determining when your injury was due to medical malpractice can be complex and requires an informed assessment of many factors.
Determining when medical malpractice has occurred requires a careful assessment of the standard of care applicable to your injury and the symptoms of your injury. This can be difficult to do on your own after a medical procedure where you suffered a preventable and costly injury.
Applying the standard of care to your injury requires an understanding of the procedure, what steps it should and should not include, and then a careful assessment of the records of your procedure.
Your medical malpractice attorney from the Zayed Law Offices has experience working on similar cases and knows when something has happened outside of the norm. To learn more, we can set up a consultation and evaluate your situation. If you have a claim, your case can benefit from our network of local medical experts who can analyze your injury and procedure to identify the best possible outcome in your claim.
When you have suffered an injury in a medical procedure, the party who is liable will be the doctor and/or the healthcare facility, but generally, it will be their insurance companies who are responsible for paying for your damages. Doctors and healthcare facilities pay for medical malpractice insurance to cover them if mistakes happen.
A statute of limitations is a time limit that is set by law during which a person must bring a claim for a particular case, and if you do not bring a claim during that time, you forfeit your ability to do so.
The statute of limitations is an expiration date on your ability to bring a claim for your injury. In Illinois, the general statute of limitations for injuries and deaths is two years, although when it comes to medical malpractice, the range might vary.
Determining which statute of limitations applies to your particular medical malpractice injury requires the application of the law to the unique facts and circumstances of your case. Reaching out to a medical malpractice attorney as soon as possible following your injury will help to ensure that you begin the process during the period allowed and do not lose your ability to pursue the damages you deserve.
The first step with your medical malpractice claim is to request copies of your medical records. This comes after you receive emergency medical care for your injury to address any pressing concerns.
Once you have copies of your medical records, reach out to a medical malpractice attorney from Zayed Law Offices to collect evidence and get started on your claim.
With a medical malpractice attorney on your side, you can pursue the best possible outcome in your case while your attorney supports your case and handles the day-to-day logistics so that you can focus on recovering from your injury. The purpose of medical procedures is to cure ailments, not cause harm, and if you have suffered an injury, you deserve damages.
When you sign a consent or waiver form, you agree to accept the reasonable risks associated with a procedure. These risks might have to do with particular aspects of the treatment, medications required, and other factors that your doctor and healthcare provider will explain to you. You are not signing away your right to damages if the procedure injures you in a way that violates the standard of care. Signing a consent form or a waiver does not give your doctor the right to make errors and mistakes when conducting the procedure you need for your health. A medical procedure should mitigate risk or solve a problem, not cause further injury. Your medical malpractice attorney will assess your case and determine the best course of action to collect the full damages you deserve.
The time to reach out to Zayed Law Offices is as soon as possible after you receive emergency medical care for your injury. If you suffered an injury after a medical procedure, seek out immediate emergency medical care from a third party to treat your injuries and determine your medical status. From there, connecting with a medical malpractice attorney will help to get the process started on collecting your damages, whether a claim with the insurance company or a lawsuit.
All patients are entitled to copies of their medical records upon request. You can do this by reaching out to the records department of the hospital - which can be in-person or online - and requesting copies of your medical records related to the procedure. You may need to pay a copy fee, but you are not required to give a reason for why you want them. Once you have copies of your medical records, your medical malpractice attorney can apply their knowledge of similar cases and injuries to determine whether you might have a case. If so, you will explore options on how you can get started, including answering any questions you might have about how much your medical malpractice attorney might cost.
In some situations, your medical malpractice attorney might not cost you anything out-of-pocket if they take your case on contingency, which we’ll discuss below. This is a common question that individuals have after they have suffered an injury, whether or not they will have the money to hire an attorney to ensure that they can collect the full compensation they are entitled to for their injury.
If you suffered an injury in a medical procedure, seek out emergency medical care for your injury. You might not know the extent of the injury, so make sure that it will not become further complicated and cause more damage. After you seek emergency medical care for your medical malpractice injury, contact your local medical malpractice attorney from Zayed Law Offices. After you have suffered an injury, do not personally accuse your doctor or healthcare provider of medical malpractice or of injuring you. Seek emergency medical care from a third-party provider, then contact your attorney. You will begin the process by collecting your medical records, which we covered above, then your attorney steps into your shoes and handles every step of the process for you.
The last thing you expect to happen when you go to the doctor to solve a health problem is another one created by malpractice. Medical malpractice is when you experience an injury because of an error or omission in a medical procedure that failed to provide the applicable general standard of care. Doctors provide a service that, by its very nature, can be dangerous to the patient.
You might have to undergo anesthesia, and the experience of undergoing a surgical procedure is invasive and does entail particular risks. Many risks are inherent in the procedure and you might have accepted this by signing a waiver form. However, when you suffer an injury during a medical procedure due to an uncommon risk or failure to provide the standard of care, you may recover compensation for the costs and losses associated with your injury.
Once the doctor-patient relationship has been established, the healthcare provider must adhere to the applicable standard of care. A patient bringing a medical malpractice claim must show that the healthcare provider breached the applicable standard of care, that the breach caused injury, and that the breach caused the patient’s injuries.
Prosecuting a claim for medical malpractice can be time consuming, complicated, and costly. Contacting an attorney who has a proven track record of excellence is an essential part of bringing a successful medical malpractice claim.
Very often doctors undertake risky procedures without any guarantee of success, and a bad result alone is not evidence of medical malpractice. One of the most solid grounds for suspicion of medical malpractice is when the results of a procedure are widely unexpected. It is important to look into any suspicions of medical malpractice, and this is best done by contacting an experienced medical malpractice law firm. An experienced medical malpractice attorney will review the records of healthcare professionals and may order additional tests and exams.
In the event of medical malpractice, health care providers can be held responsible as well as the institutions they are affiliated with. An experienced medical malpractice attorney will be able to identify ALL parties who are responsible.
Two years is the general time limit for filing suit for injury or death in Illinois. However, there are many nuances that apply to medical malpractice statutes of limitation. The statute of limitations for medical malpractice lawsuits is from one to seven years depending on the facts of the case. It is best to contact a personal injury attorney in order to consult with an attorney who will guide your case through the gauntlet of applicable statutes of limitations.
One of the most important things to do in the event of a suspected medical malpractice is to avoid outright accusations toward your healthcare provider. Make sure that you request your medical records and then consult an experienced medical malpractice attorney to review the records and provide guidance on your potential cause of action.
Signing a consent form means you have acknowledged that there are known risks associated with your medical treatment. A signed consent form does not mean that you have consented to medical treatment below the applicable standard of care owed by all healthcare providers to their patients.
Amounts recovered from medical malpractice lawsuits are generally not taxable.
All patients have a legal right to obtain a copy of their medical records. These requests should be made in writing and must include details like the patient’s social security number, address, date of birth, etc. Requesting medical records can be very timely and may require payment of fees to the records department providing the records.