The failure to diagnose an illness or a misdiagnosis leading to delays in proper treatment are often cited as the basis for medical malpractice lawsuits. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, cases are coming to light of physicians delayed diagnosing or treating a patient’s symptoms. Leaving serious conditions untreated can be fatal or can cause long-lasting damage, including physical and psychological injuries.
Each year, failure to diagnose serious medical conditions leads to many preventable deaths. Sometimes errors happen because doctors fail to order the proper diagnostic tests or don’t spend enough time talking to patients or family members to get an accurate medical history. Sometimes, they are the result of bad communication among medical personnel and failure to do follow-up testing. Because many patients were discouraged from visiting their health care providers during the pandemic, many potentially treatable conditions now have a much more dire prognosis.
Our South Carolina medical malpractice attorneys at Joye Law Firm are ready to help if you or a loved suffered a serious medical injury due to a delay or failure to diagnose a medical condition.
Since 1968, Joye Law Firm has helped injured people across South Carolina hold negligent medical providers accountable and seek full compensation for their medical bills and other losses. We want to help you, too. Call Joye Law Firm. Please contact us at 888-324-3100 or fill out our online form for a free review or your case.
Understanding Medical Malpractice Liability During COVID-19
The COVID-19 pandemic is unprecedented in modern American history. Though it is medically comparable to the 1918 Spanish flu pandemic, our understanding of medical care providers’ legal obligations to patients is far more advanced today.
Medical malpractice claims are based on an analysis of whether the medical professional provided care consistent with the standard of care and acted as another reasonable medical professional would have in a similar situation. When questioning whether a medical condition was properly diagnosed, thorough research must be conducted into what symptoms the patient exhibited, when the patient sought medical care, and how a delay or failure to diagnosis impacted their condition.
COVID-19 was first confirmed in South Carolina in March 2020. On April 2, 2020, South Carolina’s Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) announced that the virus had spread to all 46 counties in the state. The first wave of COVID in South Carolina peaked in July and August after the seven-day moving average of new cases increased nearly five-fold in June.
Like the rest of the nation, South Carolina saw a resurgence, or second wave, of COVID cases in the fall of 2020 after the Thanksgiving holiday and again after Christmas and the start of 2021.
Unfortunately, due to the length of time, many patients saw a delay in receiving routine health care. This may have put some patients at a greater risk for poor medical outcomes.
Grounds for a Medical Malpractice Case Due to Failure to Diagnose
Failure to diagnose an illness may mean that a health care provider has:
- Missed a diagnosis; that is, failed to recognize that the patient was suffering from a recognizable illness
- Made a wrong diagnosis, which means identifying an illness that is not present, such as the flu
- Made a delayed diagnosis, meaning an illness was identified through a second or subsequent examination in which the same symptoms were presented or a second or subsequent review of diagnostic test results
- Failed to recognize complications that change or aggravate an existing condition.
A medical malpractice claim alleges a preventable error or negligence on the part of a doctor or another medical care provider, such as a hospital where policies and procedures are in error or negligent.
The evidence presented in a claim must show that:
- There was a relationship between the provider and the patient, giving rise to a duty of care
- The provider breached the duty of care by failing to deliver the standard of care that another medical professional facing a similar case and circumstances would have provided
- The patient was injured as a result of the breach of the provider’s duty of care
- The patient’s injury is compensable, meaning it can be made better by a monetary payment to the patient or the patient’s surviving family members.
A medical malpractice claim would seek to compensate the plaintiff for:
- Medical costs incurred due to the defendant’s negligence, including for future or ongoing medical needs
- Funeral and burial costs in a fatality
- Lost income due to an extended illness or avoidable death of a family’s breadwinner
- Pain, suffering and mental anguish
- A spouse’s loss of consortium
- Punitive damages (in cases of exceptional negligence).
How a Medical Malpractice Attorney Can Help
If you have been hospitalized or a loved one has died due to a delay in treatment because of COVID-19 in South Carolina, please contact the COVID-19 malpractice attorneys of Joye Law Firm. We are reviewing all potential medical malpractice claims against negligent health care providers.
Our South Carolina attorneys at Joye Law Firm have nearly 250 years of combined experience practicing law. Medical malpractice cases typically involve reviewing and analyzing volumes of technical data pertaining to patient exams, testing and treatment and intricate points of law. Our attorneys at Joye Law Firm know how to investigate cases, negotiate with insurance companies that represent doctors and medical centers and litigate malpractice cases in court.