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Delayed Medical Diagnosis

When a health condition is not diagnosed in a timely manner, it can result in serious injuries and fatalities. Health care professionals may be held liable for medical malpractice if their lack of care and negligence resulted in your loved one's death.

Delayed Medical Diagnosis Fatalities

nurse reviewing medical records

Healthcare professionals are individuals that people trust. But healthcare professionals are capable of making mistakes. Some of these mistakes can lead to severe illness and death.

Healthcare providers are relied upon to make a correct diagnosis based on a patient’s symptoms, medical history, and test results. A provider can fail to interpret the data or evaluate a patient correctly. When this happens, a patient can be misdiagnosed, or diagnosed too late in order to receive proper treatment.

Delayed diagnosis and misdiagnosis both fall under the broader category of medical malpractice. They are both examples of negligence because they occur when a provider fails to act as a reasonable medical professional would do in similar circumstances.

Common Health Conditions That May Go Undiagnosed

There are multiple health conditions that may go undiagnosed. The misdiagnosis rate is between 10 and 15%. Some of the most common health problems that are often misdiagnosed include the following:

  • Cardiac problems
  • Cancer: both at its original source (primary malignancy) or when it has spread (metastasized)
  • Neurological problems
  • Blood clots in the lungs (pulmonary emboli)
patient holding loved one's death after delayed medical diagnosis

Failure to Diagnose Cancer

In 2018 alone there were 1,708,921 new cancer cases in the United States. Symptoms of cancer will vary based on the type of cancer.


For example, the Mayo Clinic notes that symptoms of colon cancer can include a persistent change in bowel habits, blood in the stool, or persistent abdominal discomfort. But symptoms of lung cancer can include a new and persistent cough, coughing up blood, or shortness of breath.


Some people will be at more risk for cancer based on family history, personal medical history, and lifestyle habits.

Health care providers need to know their patients’ histories and lifestyles in order to know when to recommend cancer screenings. The CDC notes that with some types of cancer—like colon, breast, and cervical cancer—treatments are most likely to work if the cancer is found early on.


This is why primary care providers will often recommend screening tests like colonoscopies, pap smears, and mammograms.


When cancer is not diagnosed or if a diagnosis is delayed, a person’s chances of survival and treatment options may decrease. This leads to an increase in poor health outcomes and in mortality.

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If you believe your loved one died because of a delayed medical diagnosis, please contact our counselors and legal experts to get the support you need.

Failure to Diagnose Heart Disease

Heart disease is a broad category. Several types of cardiac problems are considered heart disease. Coronary artery disease, abnormal heart rhythms, and inflammation of the heart are all examples of heart diseases.


If left untreated, heart disease can increase a person’s risk for severe health problems like a stroke or heart attack. One common example is with coronary artery disease.


Symptoms of this include:

  • Chest pain
  • Shortness of breath
  • Pain or numbness in your arms or legs
  • Neck, jaw, or throat pain



Symptoms of coronary artery disease differ between men and women. This increases the risk for misdiagnosis.

Healthcare professionals may not ask patients about symptoms or may dismiss symptoms as insignificant. For example, if a patient is under a certain age, there is a lower risk for a patient’s symptoms to be related to heart disease. This can cause providers to not be concerned about symptoms like chest pain.


Providers may also fail to ask about a patient’s medical history or family history. This can lead to missing key risk factors and lead to a missed or delayed diagnosis.


Finally, a provider may fail to order the correct tests or may misread a test. For example, if a patient comes in with chest pain, doctors will look at a patient’s troponin levels. This is done by getting a blood sample from the patient and interpreting the results. An elevated troponin level can indicate that the patient has had a heart attack. But if the doctor doesn’t order the blood work or fails to interpret the results correctly, a patient could be misdiagnosed.

What If My Loved One Died Due to an Undiagnosed Condition?

If you or your loved one have suffered harm, you may be eligible to file a medical malpractice suit. A doctor’s actions may constitute medical negligence if he or she made an unintentional mistake that caused you harm.

For example, if a doctor fails to recognize your symptoms and fails to order the correct tests, the doctor may be held liable for medical negligence. If the doctor’s actions were intentional, the doctor may be held liable for medical malpractice.

If your loved one died due to an undiagnosed condition, you may be able to file a claim for wrongful death. The amount of compensation you may be eligible for will vary based on the circumstances and actions involved in your case.

You may be able to receive compensation for funeral and burial expenses, loss of income support, or for medical expenses for treatment the deceased person received before passing. Who can file a wrongful death lawsuit may vary by state. Typically, members of the deceased immediate family are qualified to pursue a wrongful death lawsuit. This can include parents, a spouse, or children.

Our Legal Advocates Are Here to Help You

Our team of legal advocates is here to help you know your legal rights and pursue possible compensation for your losses.

If you or your loved one has had a misdiagnosis or delayed diagnosis that resulted in physical harm or death, you may be eligible to file a case for medical malpractice or wrongful death. The extent of your legal claim will depend on the extent of the physical harm done and the actions or non-actions of medical professionals that contributed to it.

Fill out a form for a free consultation. Our team of legal advocates can help determine if you may be eligible for compensation.



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