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The Dangers of Misdiagnosis


Receiving medical care from a medical professional is meant to be a safe and positive experience. However, according to the National Center for Policy Analysis, an estimated 10 to 20 percent of cases are misdiagnosed, and a large percentage of these diagnostic errors are life-threatening. Another common problem is delayed diagnosis. Each of these categories is characterized as medical negligence. In and around Flagstaff, medical malpractice occurs when medical professionals fail to apply a standard of care in handling a client’s health needs, and they can be held legally liable for their actions. To help you better understand these issues, below is an overview of such failure to diagnose and delayed diagnosis.

Failure to Diagnose

When you visit your medical care professional, you are entrusting him or her with the responsibility to diagnose any medical issues you may have and provide you with adequate care. While there are some cases where a failure to diagnose is trivial, there are other cases where a medical care professional can be held liable. More serious instances include those that involve diabetes, cancer, and other commonly understood medical problems. The risks involved with misdiagnosis can include serious health implications and emotional distress.

Claims involving a failure to diagnose require the patient to prove three elements. The patient must prove the existence of a doctor-patient relationship, that the medical professional was negligent, and the negligence directly caused the patient harm. To help satisfy the burden of proof, expert witnesses are a highly valuable resource that may be used.

Delayed Diagnosis

Delayed diagnosis also accounts for a number of medical negligence claims. This type of issue occurs when a medical professional fails to correctly diagnose a serious medical condition. Typically, delayed diagnosis occurs due to negligence on behalf of the medical professional. The risks involved with delayed diagnosis are similar to a failure to diagnose. For instance, victims of delayed diagnosis can experience an injury or a stage of disease that would not have occurred had the medical professional diagnosed the disease in a timely manner. The most devastating consequences of a delayed diagnosis are severe physical consequences or even death. Similar to a failure to diagnose, the burden of proof lies with the plaintiff. The plaintiff must provide sufficient evidence that the medical professional’s negligence in delaying diagnosis caused a loss of chance or further injury.

Statute of Limitations in Arizona

Medical negligence claims are most effective when they are filed immediately after the injury or as early as possible because evidence of injury is often still clear. To help protect the interests of the parties and to curtail the need for expert testimony, Arizona Revised Statute 12-206 requires malpractice actions to be filed less than two years after the date of injury.

If you are the victim of medical negligence or a wrongful death, seeking the help of a legal professional at the onset of your injury is to your benefit. The Law Offices of Gonzales & Poirier are dedicated to providing you with the legal support you need, and our trustworthy Flagstaff malpractice lawyers serve the Northern Arizona area. Reaching out today can help you gain a better tomorrow.

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