Failure to Diagnose is the #1 Cause of Medical Malpractice Lawsuits


Military doctors failed to diagnose a green beret’s lung cancer for months. The 35-year-old soldier reported to a doctor in January 2017 after he experienced a bullet injury to his lungs. The CT scan of his lungs showed a tumor that doctors dismissed. One doctor wrote that more attention needed to be paid to his medical record. However, they misdiagnosed him with atypical pneumonia. By the time another doctor noticed the lung tumor, he had stage 3 lung cancer. Now, he is considered a terminal patient.


Sadly, this soldier’s experience is not unusual. In fact, failure to diagnose is the leading cause of medical malpractice lawsuits. The most common reason that plaintiffs give for bringing a medical malpractice lawsuit is a failure to diagnose a disease or delays in a diagnosis that leads to a progression of the disease. According to a multi-national study, between 26% and 63% of medical malpractice lawsuits were related to failure to diagnose serious illnesses.


Diseases That are Frequently Misdiagnosed

Sadly, the most common patient outcome for those studied was death due to a doctor’s failure to diagnose the condition. Some of the most frequently misdiagnosed or undiagnosed medical conditions include the following:

  • Breast cancer
  • Lung cancer
  • Colon cancer
  • Melanoma (skin cancer)
  • Lung cancer
  • Heart attacks in adults
  • Meningitis for children


Heart Attacks in Women Frequently Go Undiagnosed or Misdiagnosed

Women are at high risk of suffering a heart attack that goes undiagnosed or misdiagnosed. Women are more likely to have “atypical” symptoms of heart attack such as gastrointestinal pain and problems. The symptoms that women experience are often different from the signs of a heart attack for men, which include chest or arm pain.


Elements in a Failure to Diagnose Lawsuit in Alaska

What do people need to prove to succeed in a failure to diagnose a lawsuit? The plaintiff will need to prove that a delay in diagnosis or failure to diagnose disease caused the injury or disease to progress more than it would have with a proper diagnosis. First, the plaintiff will need to prove that he or she had a doctor/patient relationship with the doctor in question.

Next, the plaintiff will need to prove that the doctor failed to timely diagnose a certain medical condition. It can be difficult to establish that a patient suffered a worse outcome due to a failure to diagnose. In many cases, doctors will fail to properly diagnose a certain type of cancer. The failure to diagnose cancer can cause cancer to spread without treatment, often leading to the patient’s death.


Contact Our Experienced Anchorage Failure to Diagnose Lawyers

If a doctor failed to diagnose you or your loved one’s medical condition, you might be entitled to damages for your injuries. Contact our Anchorage medical malpractice lawyers today to discuss how we can help you fight for your right to compensation.