When a person seeks care and treatment for the symptoms of a medical condition, he or she trusts that their doctor or other health care provider will order the appropriate diagnostic tests in order to determine what is causing their pain and discomfort. If there’s a failure to diagnose or a misdiagnosis of a medical issue, some patients might not be harmed. With others, that failure or incorrect diagnosis can cause severe and permanent harm or even death. When medical professionals are careless and negligent and fail to treat patients for the proper condition, the results can be disastrous.
Commonly Missed Conditions
Failure to diagnose is the most common medical malpractice claim in the United States. They’re most often made in the context of cases involving myocardial infarction, pneumonia, appendicitis, infections and different types of cancer like breast, lung or prostate cancer. Timely diagnosis and treatment are pivotal for patients who are trying to make it through life-saving procedures. For example, a perfectly treatable type of cancer can become fatal if it spreads because of a failure to diagnose it or a misdiagnosis of it.
Proving a Failure to Diagnose
In order to prove a failure to make a proper diagnosis, you must prove certain elements of medical negligence. Without a knowledgeable and skilled California medical malpractice lawyer, victims stand little or no chance of success. The elements follow:
- There was a relationship between a health care provider and the patient.
- The provider owed the patient a duty of care.
- The provider breached that duty by deviating from the standard of care.
- That deviation caused the patient to be injured or die.
- The patient or their family suffered damages.
Breach of duty and deviation from the standard of care will be hotly contested. Note that a failure to diagnose a condition or a misdiagnosis of it doesn’t necessarily prove negligence. It’s likely that an expert will testify as to the standard of care and any deviation from it. That doctor would be in the same medical field and would need to testify that under the same or substantially similar circumstances, the condition would have been properly diagnosed.
The Statute of Limitations in California
A statute of limitations in a California medical malpractice case operates as deadline for when a lawsuit must be filed by. Pursuant to section 340.5 of the California Code of Civil Procedure, the statute of limitations is three years from the date of the injury or one year from when the victim discovers it. Failure to comply with the statute of limitations will likely cause a case to be dismissed. There are very few exceptions to this general rule, so don’t rely on them. You can eliminate any statute of limitations issues by simply making a timely filing.
Damages in California Medical Malpractice Cases
Damages in any California medical malpractice case are going to be both economic and non-economic in nature. Damages that you might be able to pursue and recover follow:
- All reasonably necessary past and future medical expenses, including therapy.
- All reasonable lost earnings or diminished earning capacity.
- Compensation for any permanent disability or disfigurement.
- Compensation for pain and suffering.
- Other valuable damages in the event of a wrongful death.
A failure to diagnose a condition or even a delayed diagnosis can cause a significant negative impact on a patient’s health and result in substantial long-term medical expenses and emotional trauma. If you believe that you were the victim of a failure to diagnose or a delayed diagnosis, contact us here at Quirk Accident and Injury Attorneys, APC, and we can arrange for a free consultation and case review. Remember that strict time limits apply to these types of cases, so contact us as soon as you possibly can.