HealthLeaders Media reports that studies show that 34% of medical malpractice cases involving individuals who suffered permanent disabilities or perished arose from a delayed diagnosis. This makes such errors responsible for a large portion of the severe harm that results from blunders in the healthcare industry.
According to Healthline, such diagnostic mistakes impact 12 million Americans each year. Delayed diagnoses may lead to serious consequences.
Doctors may order the wrong tests performed or misinterpret the results. This in turn may lead to patients receiving incorrect, possibly expensive, treatments that they do not need. In worst-case scenarios, the medications and care prescribed may even cause harm to them.
Since injuries or illnesses may worsen over time, a long delay in treatment may lead to a worse situation or even permanent damage. For instance, an individual in the middle of a stroke sustains brain damage the whole time. Not treating it fast enough may mean more brain tissue dies than had to, leading to nervous system-related disabilities.
In the most severe cases, individuals may die because of delayed diagnoses. As an example, many cancers are treatable in earlier stages. However, if a doctor fails to recognize cancer in a patient in a certain amount of time, the disease may progress to an untreatable level.
Healthcare providers have a responsibility to inform patients of diagnoses in a timely fashion, but this is not always possible. A diagnosis that takes a little more time to come to is not necessarily a delayed one. However, if a patient suffers permanent harm or death as a result of an actual unreasonably late diagnosis, there may be options for pursuing compensation for medical malpractice.