What is Failure to Diagnose and Why Does it Matter?

In 2018, research showed that medical errors were the third-leading cause of death in the United States, behind only heart disease and cancer. Yes, you read that right — around 195,000 Americans die of preventable mistakes in hospitals every year. There are several reasons patient deaths happen: miscommunication, administering the wrong medications, failing to administer medications, misdiagnosis, and more. No matter the reason, the fact is that medical errors are largely preventable; and having a medical malpractice attorney on your side makes all the difference in getting justice for you or your loved one.

One of the more common types of medical malpractice lawsuits are failure to diagnose cases. Here we’ll go over what that means, why it matters, and how an experienced  attorney can help.

What is Failure to Diagnose?

Failure to diagnose is a type of medical malpractice in which a doctor does not take the proper steps in determining a patient’s problem, which directly results in injury or death. Physicians must comply with the standard of care for  every patient that walks through their door; and failing to do so can land them in legal jeopardy. When a physician fails to act as a reasonably careful physician under the same or similar circumstances, they are guilty of violating the standard of care. 

How to Prove Failure to Diagnose in Illinois

It’s one thing to know a doctor failed to diagnose a patient properly, but it’s a completely different ballgame when it comes to proving it in court. Under Illinois law, to prove failure to diagnose, one must prove:

  • Relationship: There is an established professional relationship between the doctor and patient (appointment and medical records, etc.)
  • Duty of Care: The medical provider breached their duty of care to the victim. This means the doctor or staff acted in a way that’s uncommon. For instance, if the doctor failed to diagnose a disease, one must prove that other practitioners, under the same circumstances, would be able to diagnose it properly.
  • Actions: Plaintiffs must prove that the healthcare provider’s  actions are a proximate cause of  the victim’s injuries or death. As an example, if a doctor fails to diagnose untreatable and inoperable cancer, then there is almost certainly no case against the doctor. This is because the doctor’s actions, while potentially negligent, could not have prevented the patient’s death. The inoperable, untreatable cancer is the source of the patient’s injury. If, however, the cancer was present and treatable but grew to become a more significant problem due to the healthcare provider’s  negligence, there’s almost certainly a case to be made.
  • Damages and suffering: Finally, the plaintiff must prove that the doctor’s negligence caused injuries so that damages may be awarded.

Helpful Documents For a Failure to Diagnose Case

Proving failure to diagnose in court requires evidence. Here are some documents to keep on hand as evidence if you ever pursue a lawsuit:

  • Medical records
  • Billing records
  • Doctors’ notes from your primary physician and any 2nd opinions
  • Records of communication with the doctor (phone records, voicemails, texts, emails, etc.)
  • Witnesses
  • Photos and videos of injury/illness

Lewis Injury Firm is Here to Protect What Matters Most

Preventable medical errors  affect far too many Americans each year. Brian Lewis is a seasoned Chicago personal injury attorney who will fight for you in a court of law to right any injustices that have affected you or a loved one. Throughout his career, Brian has won tens of millions of dollars in damages for his medical malpractice clients — and now he’s ready to fight for you.

Get a free consultation today to learn how Brian can help.

Contact Us Today

Recent Posts: