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The Difference Between Misdiagnosis and Delayed Diagnosis

Written by Berkowitz

Connecticut Medical Misdiagnosis Attorneys - Berkowitz and Hanna LLCThe most common types of medical malpractice, misdiagnosis and delayed diagnosis, account for approximately 40 percent of all malpractice cases. Unfortunately, both forms of diagnosis error can be extremely damaging, possibly resulting in serious illness and injury, or even death.


Misdiagnosis occurs when a physician incorrectly diagnoses a patient’s illness or injury. If the misdiagnosis results in harm to the patient, it can give rise to a claim for medical malpractice. For example, if a patient is suffering from a heart attack but the doctor diagnoses a muscle strain and the patient dies or suffers long-term complications as a result, the doctor may be liable for the patient’s or his or her family’s losses. The key factor in any type of medical malpractice suit is proving that the treating physician, care provider, or medical facility failed to provide an adequate standard of care. Not all incorrect diagnoses amount to malpractice. The evidence must show that a competent doctor acting under similar circumstances would not have made the same mistake.

A misdiagnosis can harm a patient even if a life-threatening illness was not missed. For example, if a patient was given unnecessary treatment for a condition that he or she did not have, the treatment itself could result in illness or injury. Emotional damage from unnecessary treatments, procedures, surgeries, or medication can be grounds for seeking financial compensation as well.

Delayed Diagnosis

A delayed diagnosis involves a correct diagnosis that is given after a significant delay. In order to give rise to a claim for medical malpractice, the delay has to adversely affect the patient’s health, and must result from medical negligence. Delayed diagnosis is the most common form of medical malpractice, and it can mean the difference between life and death. Many serious illnesses, including cancer, can be effectively treated if caught in time. More aggressive forms of cancer and other illnesses can progress past a treatable stage in a matter of weeks. Delayed diagnosis may occur if a doctor fails to order tests in a timely manner.

The reality is that most people who visit the doctor for a suspected serious illness are not, in fact, seriously ill. Only a very small percentage of patients have life-threatening conditions. Unfortunately, this uneven balance can create a false sense of security for physicians. After a long week of seeing patients who were incorrectly convinced they were suffering from a deadly illness, a physician may be more likely to gloss over a patient’s obvious symptoms. If this type of error results in a missed or delayed diagnosis, the patient may be entitled to significant financial compensation.

Berkowitz and Hanna LLC – Medical Misdiagnosis Attorneys

If you have been injured as a result of a misdiagnosis, delayed diagnosis, or failure to diagnose, you may be entitled to a financial recovery for your losses. At Berkowitz and Hanna LLC, our team of skilled malpractice attorneys will work with you to determine the best way to move forward. Proving that negligence caused the harm (not the illness itself) is rarely an easy task. However, our knowledgeable legal team has extensive experience in this area of the law. Contact Berkowitz and Hanna LLC today for a free consultation about your case.