Failure to Diagnose Law

What Laws Affect the Failure to Diagnose?

Failure to Diagnose Laws are usually considered a part of medical malpractice. Many medical malpractice cases grow out of a medical professional's failure to timely diagnose, or even misdiagnose, a medical condition, illness, or injury. Although occasionally harmless, a misdiagnoses or failure to timely diagnose a condition could lead to worsening of the condition or even death.


Unfortunately, although the doctor is typically the ultimate decision maker with regard to a patient's care, he or she is not always held liable for errors or failures to diagnose. Instead, patients must usually prove three things to prevail on these types of claims: (1) the existence of a doctor-patient relationship, (2) that the doctor was actually negligent, and (3) the doctor's negligent was the direct cause of additional harm or death to the patient (i.e., the harm was something other than whatever brought the patient to the doctor in the first place).

Errors in Diagnostic Tests

One of the primary bases for a doctor's defense is that something outside of his or her control lead to the incorrect diagnosis. This could legitimately be caused by inaccurate laboratory tests, unclear or damaged radiological films, incorrect information given to the doctor/tester by the patient, etc. Although the doctor might avoid liability in these instances, so long as the diagnostic error was not as a result of the patient's wrongdoing, another person (i.e., the one who administered the test) might be.

Expert Witnesses

Because of the highly technical nature of these types of claims, often it is necessary to retain an expert witness to discuss what should have happened as opposed to what did occur. Having the right expert witness can be essential, as the expert will not only have to identify what should have occurred, but convey to the judge and jury why this diagnosis should have been obvious and what missteps the doctor made in a manner that is easy to understand. You can find an expert in your area by visiting our sister site,

For more information about the laws affecting a failure to diagnose, please review the materials below. Additionally, you can find an attorney in your area who focuses his or her practice on medical malpractice by visiting our Law Firms page.


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