Medical malpractice: Dealing with delayed or wrong diagnosis

In the medical profession, doctors and other health care providers are held to a standard of care when they treat patients. If for example, a patient files a medical malpractice lawsuit for delayed or incorrect diagnosis, this standard would serve as a measuring tool to determine whether the physician failed to consider health conditions that might have led to a different diagnosis. In Arizona, the burden of proof in these types of civil claims is on the plaintiff.

Before the court considers compensating a plaintiff for injury or death caused by a delayed diagnosis, the plaintiff will have to prove that a patient-doctor relationship existed. It must also be shown that the physician was negligent in failing to use reasonable skill to provide competent and proper treatment, and also that this negligence led to the patient's injury or death. If these elements are established, a medical malpractice claim might be substantiated.

Other factors that could come into play include proof that a doctor ignored the patient's risk factors and symptoms. Also, if extensive diagnostic tests were not ordered or if the doctor misinterpreted or misread tests results, such as mammograms, an expert witness might show that it was not merely a case of delayed or incorrect diagnosis. It is also a health care provider's responsibility to share all test results with the patient and his or her other doctors or physicians.

This is an extremely complicated field of the law. For that reason, anyone in Arizona who suffers the consequences of delayed or incorrect diagnosis -- or who loses a loved one under such circumstances -- might be best served by consulting with an experienced medical malpractice attorney. A lawyer can assess the claims to determine the viability of legal recourse, and can provide the necessary support and guidance throughout ensuing legal proceedings.

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