Doctors treat patients — that's their job; that's what they do. While doctors are held to the highest professional and ethical standards, they make mistakes sometimes, failing to properly identify a patient's condition is one of those mistakes. This failure can cause a patient's medical condition to worsen rather than improve — a type of medical malpractice known as failure to diagnose.

If you find yourself in this situation, you may be able to file a failure to diagnose malpractice lawsuit against the doctor, hospital, and/or other healthcare providers and seek damages for the physical, mental, and emotional pain and suffering that the mistake (or mistakes) caused.

Failure to diagnose medical malpractice lawsuits are complicated. You will be facing ruthless insurance companies and their teams of lawyers trying to defend their negligent clients from your medical malpractice lawsuit. 

Don’t be intimidated by them. Contact Ratzan Weissman & Boldt to learn how our team of experienced failure to diagnose lawyers can help get to the bottom of what happened in your case.  

What Is Failure To Diagnose?  

Failure to diagnose means that a doctor or medical professional failed to correctly identify a patient’s medical condition and the condition worsened as a result. This can cause serious problems and sometimes permanent injuries or even death, for you or your loved ones. For some conditions or illnesses, like cancer, early diagnosis and treatment is everything. Diagnostic errors can cause irreversible damage with many types of injuries and illnesses. 

Heart attacks, strokes, meningitis, cancer, and sepsis are some common conditions that frequently involve misdiagnosis. Diagnostic errors can be caused by:

  • Failure to consider a patient's medical history during evaluation and diagnosis
  • Failure to maintain diagnostic equipment, which can lead to incorrect results
  • Incorrect interpretation of results
  • Failure to identify the actual medical condition
  • Failure to order a test, like an ultrasound or an MRI

How Does Failure To Diagnose Compare to a Wrong Diagnosis?  

Failure to diagnose and wrong diagnose (or misdiagnosis) can both classify as types of medical malpractice. 

Failure to diagnose malpractice happens when a medical professional neglects or overlooks a patient’s condition. For example, a woman with undiagnosed severe anemia visits a doctor for help treating extreme lethargy, but the doctor tells her everything seems fine. On her way home, the woman passes out while driving due to the undiagnosed anemia and gets into a car crash. The doctor failed to diagnose the woman's medical condition, which prompted the crash. 

By contrast, a wrong diagnosis — or misdiagnosis — occurs when a medical professional incorrectly identifies a patient's condition. Say a man goes to a hospital ER room for a severe headache and vomiting and is later discharged having been diagnosed with the flu. In reality, he was having a stroke. This ER doctor misdiagnosed the patient's medical condition.

Basic Elements of a Failure To Diagnose Lawsuit

Certain elements need to be met for a failure to diagnose lawsuit to be deemed legally viable. Only then will you be able to file a claim against a medical professional or healthcare provider who failed to diagnose a condition. 

These elements raise the stakes from an unfortunate-but-non-actionable failure to diagnose to an actionable failure to diagnose based on negligence. Only the second scenario can result in a successful lawsuit.

Doctor-Patient Relationship  

The first step involves proving that a doctor-patient relationship exists (or existed). Generally, this is not difficult. A simple medical bill with the doctor’s name on it will suffice. 

Failed Standard of Care 

Every medical professional is held to a standard of care set by industry guidelines and medical associations. Once you have established that a doctor-patient relationship exists, you must prove that the doctor or medical facility in question is held to certain professional and ethical medical standards that they failed to meet.

When the quality of care falls below this standard, then the medical professional has breached their duty of care.

If the medical professional did not fall below the standard of care and/or did not act extremely different from how a reasonable medical professional would, then the failure to diagnose malpractice lawsuit will likely be unsuccessful.

As the plaintiff (the individual making a claim for the failure to diagnose lawsuit), you need to prove that the medical professional did something incorrectly and this error fell below the industry standard. This error is what caused the medical professional to breach their duty of care to you.

Negligence Occurred 

The next step involves proving that a negligent act occurred. You must identify the action or non-action that fell below the medical professional’s standard of care and led to your failure to diagnose claim. This action or non-action is what caused the medical professional to fail in diagnosing your medical condition or disease.

Client Experienced Injury 

Like any negligence claim, you must prove that you were harmed in some way. For medical malpractice claims, you must prove that you suffered an injury or that your medical condition worsened, and that this outcome was caused by the medical professional’s negligence. 

Suppose an ER doctor fails to diagnose sepsis (the body's overactive and toxic response to an infection) in a patient, and discharges them from the intensive care unit. Complications from sepsis include organ damage, organ failure, and gangrene (dead tissue caused by an infection or lack of blood flow). The patient could prove that all of these complications caused serious injury. If the patient dies from these complications, a loved one can also seek damages caused by failure to diagnose malpractice in the form of a wrongful death claim.

Average Settlement for Failure To Diagnose Cases 

If you were a victim of medical negligence or have a loved one who suffered or died from complications due to medical malpractice, you may be entitled to economic and non-economic damages. 

Recoverable economic damages can include:

  • Medical bills for visits to the doctor's office or hospital, surgeries, therapy, rehabilitation, medications, counseling, and medical equipment
  • Loss of wages and future earnings

Non-economic damages can include:

  • Loss of enjoyment of life
  • Damages caused by pain and suffering
  • Emotional distress
  • Loss of consortium or companionship 

Ratzan Weissman & Boldt understands that no amount of money will make you whole again. If you or a loved one suffered injuries caused by failure to diagnose malpractice, compensation can ease the stress on you and your family. It is your legal right to hold the individuals accountable for the misdiagnosis and we believe everyone should exercise that constitutional right. Every case is different, and every client is unique. At RWB, we will stop at nothing to win your case, ensuring you and your family are fairly compensated for the injuries you suffered due to diagnostic errors.

At What Point Should You Contact an Attorney for Medical Malpractice?

You should seek out a failure to diagnose lawyer if you believe you or your loved one has been a victim of avoidable injuries caused by medical negligence. You should not delay. Florida law does not allow you to bring a medical malpractice claim forever. Florida statute 95.11(4)(b) permits actions for medical malpractice up to two years after the incident happened or two years from the time the incident was or should have been discovered. 

At Ratzan Weissman & Boldt, we have decades of experience advocating for our clients and securing settlements and verdicts for their medical malpractice claims. It is in this area of law that we concentrate the bulk of our time, energy, and resources, and we have recovered hundreds of millions of dollars for our clients as a result.  

If your doctor or healthcare provider failed to exercise reasonable care and made medical errors that caused you harm, it is not your fault. They can, and should, be held responsible for their negligence. We will gather all the evidence and mount a strong legal claim against the medical professional or hospital that harmed you and hold them responsible for their negligence.

Contact our misdiagnose lawyers by phone at 855-929-3811 or by using our online contact form today. We are here to help you better understand your legal rights and to help hold those responsible for your injuries accountable. We will provide clear and straightforward answers to your questions, giving you a better understanding of your legal rights.