It’s clear that a missed diagnosis can be fatal. If doctors don’t understand that something is wrong, the person simply doesn’t get the treatment they need. You can see this when someone is having a heart attack, but the doctor just tells them they seem a bit stressed out and sends them home to rest.
A delayed diagnosis is similar. You still see a medical care provider, and they still get it wrong. The difference is simply that they rectify the diagnosis at a later date. Maybe they notice more symptoms, or it just becomes clear what’s happening, and they adjust that diagnosis. This may sound better, but it could still be fatal.
This issue crops up when you’re dealing with progressive diseases that get worse over time. A common example is cancer. Many types of cancer progress very slowly and can take months or even years to really affect the patient.
That said, most types of cancer are also more easily cured when they are found early. Doctors can start chemotherapy or perform surgery.
If they delay that diagnosis, however, the cancer may spread so far that it becomes a terminal condition. Maybe chemotherapy will no longer be strong enough. Perhaps the cancer will move into organs that cannot be operated on surgically without great risk to the patient.
What are your options?
As you can see, even if your medical team does make the right diagnosis in the end, they can drastically impact your quality of life and even your recovery odds. If something like this has happened to you, it may constitute medical malpractice, and you need to know what steps to take.