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New York Court Discusses When a Delayed Diagnosis Constitutes Malpractice

While in some cases, a patient’s symptoms are straightforward, and the cause of the symptoms are easily ascertainable, in other instances, the journey to an accurate diagnosis can be lengthy. Simply because a patient does not immediately receive a correct diagnosis does not indicate that malpractice is present, however. Instead, in some cases, it may simply take longer to determine what illness is afflicting a patient. Recently, a New York appellate court discussed the evaluation of malpractice claims arising out of delayed diagnoses in a case in which it took several months for a plaintiff to receive a cancer diagnosis. If you were injured by a delay in receiving an accurate diagnosis, you should consult a capable Syracuse medical malpractice attorney regarding your possible claims.

Factual Background

It is reported that the plaintiff’s decedent presented to the defendant primary care physician with complaints of puffy eyes and nasal congestion. He was treated and sent home. A month later, the decedent called the defendant primary care physician and advised he was having difficulty swallowing, after which she referred him to a gastroenterologist. She did not order any other tests. The decedent ultimately underwent diagnostic imaging, which revealed that he had a mass in his chest. The defendant oncologist ultimately diagnosed the plaintiff with a form of lymphoma. After  the decedent’s death, the plaintiff filed a medical malpractice lawsuit against the defendants, arguing that their failure to diagnose the decedent in a timely manner caused the decedent’s harm. The defendants each filed motions for summary judgment, which the court granted in part. The plaintiff appealed.

Medical Malpractice Arising Out of a Delayed Diagnosis

With regard to the claims against the defendant primary care physician, the court noted that the defendant established via her expert report that the treatment she provided the decedent with on the date of his initial visit complied with the standard of care. In return, the plaintiff’s expert failed to raise a triable issue of material fact regarding whether the defendant deviated from the standard of care. Thus, the court affirmed the order granting summary judgment with regard to that issue.

The court also affirmed the denial of the defendant primary care physician’s motion for summary judgment with regards to whether she deviated from the standard of care during her phone consultation with the decedent, finding that her expert failed to address the plaintiff’s allegations that additional testing should have been conducted.

Lastly, the court affirmed the order granting the defendant oncologist’s motion for summary judgment. Specifically, the court found that while the decedent was ultimately diagnosed with lymphoma, there was no evidence to suggest that the oncologist should have determined the correct diagnosis any earlier than he did. As such, the court ruled that a malpractice claim cannot rest on hindsight.

Speak with a Trusted Medical Malpractice Attorney

If you experienced a delay in obtaining an accurate diagnosis and you suffered harm as a result, you should meet with a diligent Syracuse medical malpractice attorney adept at handling failure to diagnose claims to assist you in the pursuit of damages. The dedicated malpractice attorneys of DeFrancisco & Falgiatano, LLP Personal Injury Lawyers will aggressively advocate in your favor to help you seek the full amount of compensation you may be able to recover. We can be contacted at 315-479-9000 or through the form online to set up a conference.

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