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Chicago Delayed Diagnosis Lawyer

A timely diagnosis can mean the difference between life and death. Even if you survive a delayed diagnosis, you may suffer from permanent disabilities, organ damage, or other serious bodily harm that could have been prevented with prompt medical treatment. A health care provider may be liable for significant financial damages when medical negligence leads to diagnostic errors that cause harm. Contact our Chicago delayed diagnosis attorneys now for a free case review.

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A delayed diagnosis occurs when you initially receive the wrong diagnosis or none at all until after you suffer serious and often irreversible bodily harm. Every health care provider has a legal duty to provide a reasonable standard of care. This duty includes fully investigating symptoms by providing the appropriate diagnostic tests, physical examinations, and referrals to specialists.

If you or your loved one has suffered harm from a delayed diagnosis, medical malpractice may be to blame. Our award-winning Chicago delayed diagnosis lawyers can determine whether your health care provider was negligent and fight for the compensation you deserve.

$14 million


against a doctor and hospital for not following and ignoring abnormal chest X-ray results, which caused a substantial delay in the diagnosis of lung cancer.

$4.75 million


for the surviving family of a 45-year-old man who died from a heart condition after physicians delayed reading an MRI for nine days



against a physician for failing to biopsy a known breast tumor, resulting in the delay of diagnosis of breast cancer, causing death.

The Consequences of a Delayed Diagnosis

Many medical conditions that can lead to death and permanent injury are manageable or curable with prompt treatment. As long as a condition remains undiagnosed, treatment will be delayed. If you are initially misdiagnosed, you could face additional complications due to receiving inappropriate treatment for a condition you do not have.

The consequences of a late diagnosis vary based on the condition that is diagnosed late. Below are a few examples of how a delayed diagnosis can lead to severe long-term harm.

  • Delayed stroke diagnosis: A stroke causes brain damage that worsens until you receive intervention. Some stroke patients can make a full recovery with a prompt diagnosis. A delayed stroke diagnosis can lead to permanent physical disabilities, loss of eyesight, loss of hearing, coma, or death.
  • Delayed heart attack diagnosis: A heart attack causes damage to the heart muscle due to an interruption in blood flow to the heart. Every minute matters during a heart attack. The longer treatment is delayed, the more damage the heart sustains, increasing the risk of long-term disabilities and death.
  • Delayed sepsis diagnosis: Sepsis is a severe systemic infection that causes the body’s organs to stop functioning. Without prompt treatment, it can lead to septic shock, which is often fatal. Patients who survive septic shock may suffer permanent organ damage, post-traumatic stress disorder, and amputations.
  • Delayed bacterial meningitis diagnosis: Bacterial meningitis can be treated with antibiotics if diagnosed early, but this condition may be fatal within days if not promptly diagnosed and treated. Long-term complications preventable with timely treatment include seizures, hearing loss, brain damage, kidney failure, and difficulty walking.
  • Delayed spinal epidural abscess diagnosis: A spinal epidural abscess can lead to sepsis, permanent paralysis, and death without early treatment. Our Chicago delayed diagnosis attorneys won a $6 million medical malpractice settlement against an emergency room that delayed a diagnosis of spinal epidural abscess, resulting in paraplegia and the patient’s eventual death.
  • Delayed cancer diagnosis: Many forms of cancer can be treated successfully when diagnosed early. Cancer is a progressive illness that becomes harder to treat over time. A cancer misdiagnosis can allow cancer to progress until it becomes inoperable or terminal. A delayed cancer diagnosis may also necessitate more aggressive treatment with harmful and painful side effects.

Delayed Diagnosis Case Studies

The case studies below provide real-life examples of how delayed medical diagnoses adversely affect real people.

Delayed Diagnosis of a Pediatric Stroke

Laney was a three-and-a-half-year-old child who experienced a sudden onset of slurred speech, a drooping mouth, and trouble walking. While virtually any health care provider would have easily recognized these symptoms as classic signs of a stroke had Laney been an adult, Laney’s health care providers failed to consider the possibility of a stroke due to her young age.

Instead, Laney was diagnosed with a seizure disorder. She experienced multiple similar incidents in the following weeks. Approximately a month following the first incident, Laney’s health care providers performed an MRI and discovered significant brain damage and evidence that Laney had suffered a series of strokes.

By this time, the brain damage had left her unable to stand, speak, eat, or drink. She underwent months of physical therapy but continued to suffer strokes. She died less than a year after the initial stroke.

Laney may have recovered if she had received the correct diagnosis after her first stroke. Early stroke diagnosis allows health care providers to stop brain damage and reduce the risk of recurrence. By the time Laney had a correct diagnosis, the damage to her brain was so extensive that treatment was ineffective.

Delayed Diagnosis of Kidney Infection and Sepsis

A 61-year-old woman died at a Chicago area hospital from complications stemming from a kidney stone after a team of ten health care providers failed to timely diagnose a kidney infection and sepsis.

The health care providers failed to detect the kidney infection. Although the kidney stone blocked the patient’s urinary tract and prevented her from passing urine, the health care providers opted to wait for it to pass. The undiagnosed, untreated kidney infection developed into sepsis, but the doctors also failed to diagnose that, leading to her death.

The patient could have avoided sepsis and made a full recovery within a few days had she received a prompt diagnosis and appropriate treatment. A simple course of antibiotics could have treated the kidney infection, and a urinary stent could have allowed the stone to pass.

Our Chicago delayed diagnosis lawyers represented the patient’s family and won a record $8 million settlement against the hospital and the negligent medical staff.

Delayed Diagnosis of Lung Cancer

We won a record $14 million jury verdict in another delayed diagnosis lawsuit on behalf of a woman whose life span was reduced to just two years after a delayed diagnosis of lung cancer.

Our client underwent a series of X-rays that revealed an abnormality in her lung, and the radiologist recommended follow-up X-rays. However, her doctors failed to inform her of her test results or arrange follow-up testing that a radiologist had recommended.

Approximately one and a half years later, our client presented with complaints of coughing and shortness of breath. Her doctor delayed testing for five months. When a new series of chest X-rays was finally taken, the cancer had progressed to three times the size and scope shown in the original X-rays.

Our experts testified at trial that she likely would have made a full recovery if treatment had commenced when the first set of X-rays was done. Instead, our client’s cancer metastasized to her brain, preventing her from continuing her employment as a corporate paralegal. Her lifespan was also reduced to an estimated two years because of the delayed diagnosis.

What Conditions Are Most Often Diagnosed Late?

The most common medical conditions to be diagnosed after a delay include the following:

These conditions are known as the “Big Three” because they account for approximately 75 percent of all medical malpractice claims involving severe injury and death.

Is a Delayed Diagnosis Medical Malpractice?

A delayed diagnosis may constitute medical malpractice if you can prove that all of the following elements of negligence were present when your diagnosis was delayed:

  • Duty of care: You had established yourself as a patient of the provider.
  • Breach of duty: The provider failed to provide a reasonable standard of care when diagnosing your condition.
  • An injury: The delayed diagnosis caused you to sustain an injury you would not have suffered if the condition had been diagnosed promptly.
  • Actual and proximate cause: The health care provider’s breach of duty is the actual cause of your delayed diagnosis.

Proving all four elements requires detailed knowledge of medical conditions, tests, and standards.

Your attorney will need a thorough understanding of the guidelines your doctor should have followed while diagnosing your condition. This knowledge enables your attorney to identify where your doctor went wrong and prove a breach of duty occurred.

Your medical malpractice attorney will also need a solid enough foundation to understand and prove how the delay in diagnosis impacted your treatment options and changed your outcome.

Our seasoned Chicago delayed diagnosis lawyers at Levin & Perconti have over 400 years of combined experience identifying health care providers’ mistakes and proving how they resulted in harm.

What Are Your Legal Options if a Delayed Diagnosis Has Harmed You?

If you or your loved one has suffered harm from a delayed diagnosis because of medical negligence, you may be eligible to pursue substantial compensation through a delayed diagnosis lawsuit. Compensation may include the following:

  • Economic damages – Compensation for your medical expenses, lost wages, and lost earning capacity
  • Non-economic damages – Compensation for pain and suffering, disability, disfigurement, and other emotional losses
  • Wrongful death damages – Compensation for loss of companionship, your loved one’s pain and suffering, final expenses, and loss of your loved one’s earnings

A delayed diagnosis lawsuit may result in a settlement or a verdict. We are skilled trial lawyers with a history of record-setting verdicts. As a result, medical malpractice insurers and health care organizations are often eager to settle with us to avoid facing us in court. This leverage helps us obtain maximized compensation for our clients.

Why Hire a Chicago Delayed Diagnosis Lawyer?

When you file a delayed diagnosis lawsuit, you must fight wealthy, powerful insurance companies and health care organizations with virtually unlimited resources to pay for their defense. Going against them requires access to significant financial resources to pay for medical experts, professional witnesses, financial planners, and court costs.

If you lack the assistance of a seasoned medical malpractice attorney with significant financial backing, you face significant disadvantages.

Our skilled Chicago delayed diagnosis lawyers have the financial resources to take on large corporations and win. We have developed the most aggressive and effective approach to standing up to medical malpractice insurers and health care organizations. We know what it takes to get the results you deserve, and we will not settle for less.

How Much Is My Delayed Diagnosis Case Worth?

The average settlement in a diagnostic error lawsuit is $677,483 nationwide, but this varies based on the facts of each case.

Our delayed diagnosis lawyers in Chicago have won settlements and verdicts in the tens of millions. The following may influence the amount you recover:

  • The severity of your injuries
  • Your earning capacity before and after the injuries
  • Which types of healthcare providers are liable
  • The number of liable health care providers
  • The extent of your pain and suffering
  • Whether your injuries are permanently disabling
  • Your present and future medical costs

We Have Proven Experience with Diagnostic Error Cases

We have won more than $2 billion in compensation for our clients. Below are some of our successful medical malpractice case results involving diagnostic errors:

  • $17.7 million settlement for a former police officer who suffered extensive brain damage leading to quadriplegia and locked-in syndrome after nurses failed to detect extracranial pressure and notify the doctor
  • $14 million record verdict against a doctor and hospital who ignored an abnormal chest X-ray resulting in a delayed lung cancer diagnosis
  • $9 million settlement for a delay in diagnosing a pregnant woman’s Group B strep, causing the baby to develop meningitis and suffer permanent brain damage
  • $8.1 million verdict for the family of a woman who died of undiagnosed lung cancer
  • $7.62 million verdict against an HMO doctor who failed to diagnose postpartum hemorrhaging after disregarding the patient’s complaints about bleeding
  • $5.35 million settlement over a hospital’s failure to diagnose postpartum cardiomyopathy in an 18-year-old woman who had given birth a month earlier
  • $5.77 million for a veteran who became paralyzed after the VA failed to diagnose neurological symptoms and relieve spinal cord compression
  • $4.75 million settlement for the family of a 45-year-old man who died from a heart condition after physicians delayed reading an MRI for nine days
  • $3.6 million settlement for a radiologist who misread an X-ray, resulting in the death of a 29-year-old husband and father from a massive tumor
  • $2.3 million settlement over a laboratory for misreading pap smears, resulting in a cervical cancer misdiagnosis and ultimately the death of a 35-year-old mother of three
  • $2.25 million settlement for the death of a five-year-old boy as a result of a failure to diagnose an infection
  • $2 million settlement for failure to diagnose cervical stenosis, which allowed the condition to progress and cause permanent disabilities
  • $1.8 million settlement for a delayed diagnosis of a postpartum sickle cell crisis, resulting in death
  • $1 million settlement over an HMO doctor’s failure to diagnose a failing artificial heart valve, resulting in death
  • $1 million settlement over a pediatrician’s failure to diagnose an 18-month-old boy’s meningitis, leading to hearing loss and brain damage
  • $950,000 settlement over a physician’s failure to diagnose breast cancer, resulting in death
  • $850,000 settlement over a physician’s failure to diagnose diabetes during pregnancy, leading to the death of a 26-week-old fetus

Delayed Diagnosis Statistics

More than 12 million Americans are harmed every year from diagnostic errors. Diagnostic errors are found in 10 to 20 percent of autopsies, which suggests that they cause 40,000 to 80,000 patients to die every year in the United States.

Wrong or delayed diagnosis causes more harm to patients than any type of medical error. A delayed diagnosis is often the effect of other diagnostic errors, including misdiagnosis and missed diagnosis. Tragically, some patients don’t receive a proper diagnosis until after death.

What Causes a Delayed Diagnosis?

The causes of a delayed diagnosis can range from one health care provider’s error to systematic problems in the health care system. The most common causes include the following:

  • Poor clinical judgment
  • Inadequate communication and documentation
  • Administrative problems
  • Lack of technical skill

Poor Clinical Judgment

Poor clinical judgment occurs when a doctor fails to make the right call in response to your symptoms. Such errors can include dismissing your symptoms, failing to order the appropriate diagnostic tests, and failing to consult or refer you to a specialist.

Doctors who make errors in clinical judgment may fail to consider your medical history or obtain a complete medical history. They may make assumptions about your condition based on personal biases. A study published by BMC Medical Ethics found that implicit bias in health care can impact diagnostic decisions in patients with the following characteristics:

  • AIDS
  • Brain injuries, especially in patients who contributed to their own injuries
  • Disability
  • Female gender
  • Intravenous drug users
  • Mental illness
  • Racial or ethnic minority status
  • Socioeconomic status
  • Old age
  • Overweight body types

Implicit biases displace objectivity and can lead to delayed diagnosis when a doctor relies on false stereotypes rather than objective medical data. Such attitudes constitute medical malpractice and have no place in medicine.

For example, a doctor may assume a black patient uses drugs and that symptoms are caused by drug use rather than performing tests to identify the real condition. They may assume women are hysterical rather than testing the real cause of physical pain. Patients with mental illness who complain of symptoms may be summarily disregarded without testing.

Inadequate Communication and Documentation

Whether you seek health care through an emergency room, a doctor’s office, or any other setting, numerous health care providers, including doctors, nurses, pharmacists, radiologists, pathologists, and others, likely coordinate on your care. Any communication breakdown can delay a diagnosis.

Every facility has a legal duty to keep accurate and complete medical records for every patient. This is the most important communication method between health care providers. Healthcare providers generally accomplish this with an electronic health record.

If a health care provider fails to enter important information, every care team member relying on your record to make diagnostic decisions from that point on will have incomplete information. It only takes one incomplete entry to create a domino effect, resulting in a significantly delayed diagnosis.

In some of the most tragic cases, a diagnostic test was ordered, and the results were read, but the patient was never informed of the results.

Administrative Problems

Administrative problems in any health care organization can cause a communication breakdown, poor coordination between medical departments and facilities, and a lack of adequate policies and procedures to ensure every health care provider follows quality standards.

One of the most common administrative problems is understaffing. This is most prevalent in nursing homes but also occurs in hospital settings and doctor’s offices. When staffing levels are inadequate, staff often cut corners, resulting in the following:

  • Charting errors
  • An inability to quickly obtain important diagnostic tests
  • Hurried interpretation of test results leading to errors
  • Failure to inform patients about test results
  • Failure of nurses to accurately, completely, and timely report patient conditions to physicians

Lack of Technical Skill

Poor technical skills can result in improper testing and improper reading of results. For example, an unskilled practitioner may fail to collect enough tissue for an accurate biopsy, resulting in a delayed cancer diagnosis. An unskilled radiologist or pathologist may misread test results. An unskilled surgeon could miss an important diagnosis during exploratory surgery.

Who Is Liable for a Delayed Diagnosis?

Any health care provider contributing to the delay in your diagnosis may be liable. Responsible parties can include individual practitioners and the facilities that employ them. Liable health care providers can include the following and more:

  • Doctors
  • Nurses
  • Pathologists
  • Radiologists
  • Laboratory technicians
  • Hospitals
  • Nursing homes

Steps to Take if A Delayed Diagnosis Has Harmed You

If you have suffered harm as a result of a delayed diagnosis, you may have grounds to file a medical malpractice lawsuit. The most important step is to contact a competent medical malpractice lawyer with experience handling delayed diagnosis cases. Our delayed diagnosis lawyers at Levin & Perconti have handled these cases for over 30 years.

As soon as we accept your case, we will start working immediately to pursue the maximum compensation available. We want you to be able to focus on your health and family while we take on all aspects of your legal claim. You can count on us to see your lawsuit through until it resolves in a successful settlement or verdict.

The steps in a medical malpractice lawsuit include the following:

  1. A case investigation. We will thoroughly review your medical records and investigate the actions of every health care provider involved in your diagnosis to identify who is liable and how the delayed diagnosis injured you. We will use this information to calculate your damages and prove your claim.
  2. Affidavit of merit. Illinois law requires plaintiffs to have a qualified doctor review the case and provide a written report stating that the lawsuit has merit. We will obtain this affidavit using our nationwide network of skilled medical experts.
  3. Filing of your lawsuit. We will file your lawsuit in the appropriate jurisdiction within the time frames established by state law.
  4. Case discovery. We will present our evidence to the defendants as required and demand evidence from the defendants that will help support your claim. Such evidence may include a deposition where you may be required to testify under oath. We will ensure you are fully prepared. We will also call the defendants to testify in a deposition if necessary.
  5. Settlement negotiations. We will use the evidence we have gathered and our record of success as leverage to negotiate for the highest settlement available. We will refuse to take less than you deserve. If a settlement cannot be reached, we will confidently take your case to trial.
  6. Trial. If your case goes to trial, our skilled Chicago delayed diagnosis attorneys will present your case to a jury. The trial will end with a verdict determining whether the defendants are liable. If the defendants are found liable, the jury will also decide the amount you receive.
  7. Collection of proceeds. We will collect your award from the defendants and distribute the proceeds to you after deducting our fees, your court costs, and medical expenses.

When Should I Contact an Attorney?

Illinois’ medical malpractice statute of limitations is two years after the negligence occurs or two years after you discover the injury. However, you cannot file a claim more than four years after the error occurred.

Determining the date when the statute of limitations begins to run in a delayed diagnosis case is not always straightforward. If you get the date wrong and miss the filing deadline, you could lose your right to recover compensation for your injuries.

Thus, it is crucial to contact a reputable medical malpractice lawyer as soon as possible after you realize a delayed diagnosis may have harmed you. We can determine the correct date and file your case on time.

After we accept your case, we will need to retrieve your medical records and complete our investigation before filing your claim. Involving our experienced Chicago delayed diagnosis lawyers as early as possible will protect your claim and allow us to build the strongest case possible.


Contact the Medical Malpractice Attorneys at Levin & Perconti

If a delayed diagnosis has harmed you, you can count on our caring and skilled medical malpractice attorneys in Chicago to fight for the results you deserve. We are a nationally recognized medical malpractice law firm with over three decades of experience in state and federal courts.

We are pioneers in medical malpractice litigation with a nationwide network of the best experts in the field working for us, and we can use these connections to strengthen your case. We have obtained numerous record verdicts and settlements in Illinois, and our results often make the headlines. We receive referrals from other attorneys nationwide because of our consistent record of success.

We have seen firsthand how devastating medical malpractice can be for individuals and families. We are committed to helping you through this confusing time by offering personalized support and staying in close contact with you until we win your compensation. You will always be able to reach us with your questions.

We never charge upfront fees, and you only pay if we win. Contact us now to schedule your free consultation.