Delayed diagnosis claims are among the most common cases brought to the attention of a medical malpractice lawyer in Bronx and elsewhere. It is something that Washington Post correspondent Roni Caryn Rabin is surely knowledgeable about—it happened to her mother, after all.
Rabin’s mother, Pauline, began exhibiting what was earlier thought to be signs of conventional dementia: losing her sense of balance, walking with an odd gait, and repeated falling. It took nearly 10 years for doctors to get the condition right. Pauline Rabin was actually suffering from a condition known as normal pressure hydrocephalus (NPH)—the effects of which may have advanced far enough in the 10 years of the diagnostic process, that some damage may have become irreversible.
Delayed diagnosis and misdiagnosis are closely related, although technically, they involve different facets. Misdiagnosis denotes an erroneous identification of a disease, leading to unnecessary or improper treatment. Delayed diagnosis, on the other hand, denotes the lack of adequate treatment because the correct condition could not be identified in a timely manner. Both are disastrous situations especially for extremely time-sensitive conditions.
An estimated 40,000 patients die each year from delayed diagnosis or misdiagnosis. Among the most commonly reported causes of delayed diagnosis include patients not being promptly confined to a facility, medical staff not recognizing/overlooking various symptoms, vital tests not being conducted, and dismissing patient concerns. In several time-sensitive conditions like cancer, a diagnostic delay can result in death, which may have been averted through early treatment.
Proving medical malpractice due to delayed diagnosis is difficult, since the law doesn’t automatically hold doctors responsible. Patients and/or immediate families looking to hold somebody liable must prove three basic points: the presence of a doctor-patient relationship, negligence (failing to render treatment in a competent manner), and the consequences of the negligence.
Of all three points, the most difficult to prove is the doctor’s negligence. In delayed diagnosis cases, a patient must substantially show that another doctor who exercises “reasonable care” would have made a more prompt diagnosis under the same conditions, which could have prevented great harm.
Diagnostic errors may not be intentional, but they can have devastating consequences on patients and their families. If you believe you or your loved one suffered from delayed diagnosis, an experienced Bronx medical malpractice lawyer from firms like the Law Offices of Joseph Lichtenstein can help you seek the justice you deserve.
(Source: Her Mother Seemed To Have Classic Dementia. Or Did She? Washington Post, March 2, 2015)