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Can a delayed diagnosis be fatal?

On Behalf of | May 25, 2022 | Medical Malpractice

You can understand how a missed diagnosis could be fatal. If you went to the doctor and they completely overlooked your condition, you may then believe that you didn’t need treatment when you actually did. If your condition progresses, it may then be too late. For instance, there have been cases where doctors have diagnosed a heart attack as a stress-related event, such as indigestion or anxiety, and sent patients home.

But what if the doctor just delays the diagnosis? They get it wrong at first, but then it becomes obvious what your condition really is later, and they adjust their diagnosis. Could something like this still be fatal, even though they eventually figured out what ailment you were dealing with?

It depends on the nature of your condition

In many cases, a delayed diagnosis simply means that you have to live with the ailment for a bit longer before getting treatment. But there are cases in which this could be very serious and could even have fatal ramifications.

For instance, aggressive types of cancer – like mesothelioma or lung cancer – are often easier to treat the sooner that doctors discover them. If your doctor misdiagnosed your cancer for six months and then finally corrected that diagnosis, that six-month delay could mean that the cancer progressed so far that it can no longer be treated. This sometimes happens when it spreads to other organs. The delayed diagnosis is not instantly fatal, but it means that life-saving treatment is no longer possible.

Even if the ramifications aren’t this serious, you need to know about your legal options if you’ve suffered harm from a delayed diagnosis or other medical malpractice.