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Failure to Test: What the Law Says About Medical Misdiagnoses and Malpractice


A 2009 article in The New York Times reported on something called the “process of care lapses,” which are situations where a patient received a diagnosis late in an illness. The obvious and most concerning example is cancer, such as when a lump in a breast is large and growing, and yet the patient with the apparent tumor delayed treatment. The article references a Harvard Medical School study that identified fault in process of care lapses is split — half to patients and half to doctors.

When a patient makes an error of judgment, it is unfortunate. But when a doctor fails to meet his or her duties, it can be malpractice. This is because we trust healthcare providers to do some basic, life-saving things:

  • Identify illness or injury where it is present
  • Treat the illness or injury as effectively as possible
  • Help prevent a recurrence of that injury or illness

You should contact a medical malpractice lawyer if a misdiagnosis or failure to make a timely diagnosis is what happened to you or a family member. The consequences can be expensive and heartbreaking: extensive treatment, loss of function, perhaps an inability to continue earning a living, and premature death can all result. For a diagnosis error to be proven in court, the legal team working on behalf of the patient simply needs to demonstrate the following:

  • A minimum standard of care was breached by your healthcare provider.
  • Your illness or injury resulted or was made worse by that breach.
  • You suffered losses as a result.

An experienced malpractice attorney will have a solid understanding of the medical situation and know how to obtain key medical records for use in pursuing fair compensation.

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