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Delayed Diagnosis Most Common Cause of Medical Malpractice, Study Finds

Posted in: Blog // Written on behalf of Cuming & Gillespie
September 28, 2015

As reported in the Calgary Herald, a new study released by the United States’ Institute of Medicine found that most people will experience at least one wrong or delayed diagnosis during their lifetime. While not all cases of missed or delayed diagnoses lead to substantially prolonged illnesses or unnecessary harm and injury, some of these cases can be far more devastating and even result in death.

A large part of the problem, according to the study, is communication between various healthcare providers. Right now, the culture in the medical community is such that one doctor might not want to point out errors made by another doctor, making them more reluctant to communicate with patients and with their colleagues who may have erred. This creates an atmosphere where mistakes are excused or overlooked rather than being brought to light and used to improve practice and make medical professionals more aware of the consequences of their actions.

Communication among medical professionals is somewhat different in Calgary and throughout Canada due to the public funding of most healthcare, however the same problems still exist to varying degrees and delayed diagnoses are quite common. When a patient is suffering from a serious illness, including many types of cancer, autoimmune disorders, and other conditions that can become life-threatening, a failure to properly diagnose the disease or a prolonged delay in reaching the correct diagnosis can lead to far more difficult treatments and recovery periods, and in the most extreme cases can lead to deaths that would otherwise have been preventable.

Not All Delayed Diagnoses in Calgary Count as Medical Malpractice

A doctor or other medical professional is not necessarily guilty of committing medical malpractice simply because they initially miss a diagnosis or are unable to reach a correct diagnosis in a timely manner. Medicine is not as exact a science as many believe or as we would hope, and dedicated, knowledgeable medical professionals might legitimately interpret evidence in a manner that leads to a misdiagnosis or that makes an accurate diagnosis take longer than desired. In such cases, and in cases where a missed or delayed diagnosis doesn’t result in any serious injury or prolonged illness, medical malpractice has not occurred.

If, however, a doctor ignores evidence, fails to follow established guidelines for collecting and analyzing evidence, or is otherwise negligent in the diagnosing process, and if this negligence results in serious harm to the patient, that patient and/or their immediate family may be entitled to compensation for medical costs, lost wages, and pain and suffering. Despite most medical professionals taking great care in with their work, this study confirms that malpractice is unfortunately common. It isn’t something you should have to face on your own.

Contact a Calgary Medical Malpractice Lawyer for Your Missed Diagnosis

If you or a family member has experienced serious harm due to a missed or delayed diagnosis, contact the medical malpractice lawyers at Cuming & Gillespie today. We’re here to help you heal, and to make sure you get the justice you deserve.

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