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Delayed Diagnosis

Syracuse Lawyers for Medical Malpractice Victims

Many medical malpractice lawsuits arise out of delayed diagnosis, or relatedly, failure to diagnose a medical condition such as cancer. Usually, a delayed diagnosis leads to delayed treatment of the medical condition or injury and sometimes this results in injuries. This sort of delay does not always constitute medical malpractice. It is important to consult an experienced Syracuse medical malpractice attorney about whether what happened to you constitutes negligence.

Delayed Diagnosis

A delayed diagnosis by itself isn’t evidence of professional negligence. Doctors who are skillful and experienced sometimes do make diagnostic mistakes even though they used reasonable care. The question is whether the doctor acted competently in arriving at a diagnosis. Generally when making a diagnosis, the doctor will use differential diagnosis, which is a systematic way of identifying the patient’s medical condition, illness, or injury. After initiating a preliminary evaluation, a doctor will make a list of diagnoses based on what is probable. The doctor will test how strong each potential diagnosis is by making additional observations and ordering lab tests or imaging, or by referring a patient to a specialist.

Under ideal circumstances, as the health care provider continues, certain diagnoses can be ruled out such that there’s only one diagnosis left on the list at the end. However, some conditions are more complicated and it can be harder to rule them out or confirm them.

Proving a Delayed Diagnosis Was Medical Malpractice

You’ll need to prove certain elements in order to show that a delayed diagnosis was medical malpractice. What must be shown is that: (1) there was a doctor-patient relationship that gave rise to a professional duty of care, (2) the delayed diagnosis of your condition constituted a breach of the duty of professional care, (3) the delayed diagnosis caused you actual injuries and harm. Often there are questions about whether the delay was a breach in the duty of professional care. There may also be questions about causation. Sometimes, even if a condition was diagnosed in time, the same outcome would have resulted. It’s important that you be able to show the same adverse outcome wouldn’t have occurred had the doctor or other health care provider abided by the professional standard of care.

In order to prevail on a medical malpractice claim based on delayed diagnosis, you will need to show that another doctor in a similar specialty under the same circumstances wouldn’t have experienced a delay in diagnosing your medical condition. A seasoned medical negligence attorney can help you with this. For example, a delayed diagnosis could be actionable because the doctor didn’t include the proper diagnosis on his or her initial differential diagnosis list where a reasonably competent and skillful doctor under similar circumstances would have. For another example, perhaps the doctor put the proper diagnosis on his differential diagnosis list, but didn’t perform proper tests or seek out opinions from medical specialists in order to investigate the viability of the diagnosis.

There are also situations in which a delay in diagnosis is the result of improper interpretation or problems with laboratory tests or imaging. This might be because the equipment is flawed or because errors have been made by someone other than the primary healthcare provider. For example, it may be the case that samples are contaminated or mixed up. Or it might be the case that a radiologist misread imaging.


If you can establish liability for delayed diagnosis, you can recover economic and noneconomic losses. Economic losses often include tangible, documented losses like medical bills, lost wages, out-of-pocket costs, and replacement services. Noneconomic losses may include pain and suffering, lost earning capacity, mental anguish, loss of enjoyment, and loss of consortium. Other damages may be available if a loved one dies as a result of a delayed diagnosis that constituted medical malpractice.

Consult a Skillful Medical Malpractice Attorney in Syracuse

If you were harmed by a delayed diagnosis, a dedicated medical negligence lawyer may be able to help. DeFrancisco & Falgiatano represents medical malpractice victims and their families in Syracuse and Rochester, as well as Lyons, Auburn, Elmira, Cooperstown, Canandaigua, Ithaca, Wampsville, Herkimer, Binghamton, Utica, Oneida, Oswego, Lowville, Watertown, and Lowville. Please call us at 833-200-2000 or contact us via our online form.

Client Reviews
"We were very impressed with how Jeff DeFrancisco represented us at trial and we were extremely happy when the jury found in our favor." D.M., Auburn, NY
"I suffered a serious injury as a result of medical malpractice. My husband and I retained Jeff DeFrancisco to assist us in this case. We were extremely happy with his representation and highly recommend him." Kelley R., Syracuse, NY
Since the insurance company was unwilling to settle the matter my case ultimately went to trial. At trial Jeff DeFrancisco did an absolutely amazing job by obtaining a very favorable result for me." T.H., Oneida, NY
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