When is failure to treat or diagnose considered medical malpractice?

Failure to treat or diagnose, happens when a doctor or other medical professional negligently  overlooks, underestimates, or ignores symptoms of a serious illness that results in wrongful death or disability of the patient. In these cases, there are often warning signs of serious illness or injury but no further treatment, tests or imaging are ordered by the provider. The delayed or absent care will directly result in a terminal or chronic condition that prematurely ends or significantly lowers the quality of life of the patient. Damages may also include medical bills to correct delayed care, lost wages, and emotional and physical pain or suffering.  

Attorneys obtain justice for their clients by proving the following:

  1. The provider in question fell below the standard of care for their medical specialty. 
  2. Significant damage resulted, and was the direct result of the provider’s failure to treat or diagnose a condition. 

Those who experience malpractice and their loved ones may rightfully feel confused, angry, betrayed or even helpless. After all, medical professionals on the front lines of the Covid-19 pandemic provided countless Americans care, guidance, and support during unprecedented times. Since the majority of doctors save lives, it is incredibly tragic when medical negligence results in severe illness or worse.  

Signs you may have a failure to treat or diagnose case.

Any doctor, nurse, or dentist could be liable for malpractice, even those affiliated with Veterans Affairs (VA) institutions. Medical malpractice cases may be insidious, or sneaky as the average person does not, and should not be expected to, know or anticipate the specifics of their standard of care. If you are presently dealing with a suspected wrongful death or chronic disability in relation to a medical professional, there is a good chance their negligence started earlier on in the patient-doctor relationship.  

The patient may have the feeling that their visits are too short, with a lack of further questions or screening measures. Those experiencing malpractice may go many visits without a diagnosis or test results but continue to experience worsening symptoms. Only after the patient switches practitioners, or succumbs to their condition, may they or their loved ones understand the extent of the health complaint. You may compare and contrast the practitioners’ care and wonder if the health issue could have been dealt with sooner, prior to the occurrence of severe bodily harm or death.  

An unfortunate example of this type of malpractice, handled by the Collier and Collier legal team involved a client who opened a malpractice case after her husband, A., died of a major stroke. In this case, the patient, A. was rushed to a VA hospital with stroke-like symptoms. Experts later verified that these symptoms were tell-tale stroke signs involving neurovascular impairment. Providers responsible for A’s care failed to administer a potentially life saving medication to help reverse the most dangerous effects of the stroke. The standard of care held that this drug must be administered within just a couple hours of symptoms to significantly decrease chances of death. In this case, because the providers in charge failed to treat the major stroke, A. experienced a premature death.  

Ways to protect yourself and help obtain the justice you deserve.  

The only way to know for sure if you are experiencing failure to treat malpractice is to consult an experienced attorney. The attorneys who handle medical malpractice cases are generally called personal injury lawyers. These attorneys will generally (but not always) work on contingency fees. 

A contingency fee means your lawyer receives a percentage of your final settlement instead of a flat rate or hourly payment. The exact percentage varies based on several considerations. For example, the contingency fee amount can change based on location, the attorney’s office, and whether your case ends up in court. 

Medical Malpractice

In Virginia, the statute of limitations for a medical malpractice case is generally 2 years. While this may seem like a long time, you should strongly consider starting your legal journey sooner than later, as many pieces of information and personal history are required to help your attorney work as effectively as possible. Your attorney will also need time to send medical records to an expert in the appropriate standard of care. Records take time to obtain, as you may be waiting on offices or hospitals to act accordingly.  

If your case seems meritable, you will need to discuss the extent of the health complaint further, detailing every office visited and what protocols, tests and discussions (or lack thereof) you or a loved one have been subjected to by your providers. You may be feeling particularly vulnerable during the legal process, sharing intimate medical information with your attorney. It is incredibly important to be honest and thorough with your attorney so they do not miss any vital details.  

Only hire the most detailed, empathetic, and thorough firm to handle this sensitive matter. The right attorney for you will leave no stone unturned and only enlist the help of the most knowledgeable medical experts. If you feel as though your current disability or a loved one’s death may have been the direct result of a provider’s failure to treat, do not hesitate to schedule an in-depth consultation with an experienced personal injury attorney, in your city or state.  

Attorney Boyd Collier and his diligent team are ready to handle your failure to treat concerns. If you feel as though something may have gone wrong during your healthcare journey, try contacting our legal team at Info@CollierandCollier.com or call the offices at 804-364-5200.