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When is the Failure to Diagnose Medical Malpractice in Chicago?

When you get medical care from a doctor, you have the reasonable expectation that any illness, disease, injury, or other medical condition will be diagnosed in a timely manner. If a physician fails to make a proper diagnosis, you could be denied the opportunity to get immediate treatment. It could be extremely dangerous. This raises an important question: When is a doctor’s failure to diagnose medical malpractice? The short answer is that a diagnostic error in medical malpractice in Illinois if a doctor of ordinary prudence would have likely made the correct diagnosis under similar circumstances. Within this blog post, our Chicago medical malpractice attorney provides a comprehensive overview of failure to diagnose claims. 

Diagnostic Errors are the Most Common Form of Medical Malpractice

Medical malpractice is a serious public health problem. A study from Johns Hopkins Medicine found that medical errors were the leading cause of death in our country—behind only cancer and heart failure. Notably, diagnostic errors are the most common form of medical malpractice. These errors include failure to diagnose, delayed diagnosis, and misdiagnosis. A diagnostic mistake can have severe consequences. A patient may receive the wrong treatment or get no treatment at all.  As many common medical conditions—including all types of cancer—require early intervention, a missed diagnosis can put a patient at serious risk. It could even be life-threatening. 

When Failure to Diagnose Becomes Malpractice (Negligence)

It is important to emphasize that failure to diagnose a patient’s medical condition is not automatically medical malpractice. In Illinois, there are four specific things that a patient must prove in order to bring a successful medical malpractice claim for failure to diagnose: 

  1. Doctor-Patient Relationship Must Be Formed: First and foremost, a doctor-patient relationship must have been formed. It is this relationship that is the stage for all subsequent legal obligations and it is foundational in establishing that the healthcare provider owed a duty of care to the patient. No doctor-patient relationship, no claim. 
  2. Failure to Diagnose Must Be Breach of Duty of Care: Once this relationship is confirmed, the next step is to demonstrate that there was a breach of this duty of care. In terms of diagnostic errors, a patient must be ready to prove that the physician failed to act as a reasonably competent doctor would have under similar circumstances. In other words, they must show that a competent doctor likely would have diagnosed their condition. 
  3. Causation Between Lack of Diagnosis and Adverse Outcome: Identifying a breach of duty is not enough. There must also be a direct causation linking the failure to diagnose with an adverse outcome. A patient must show that the doctor’s failure directly resulted in harm that would not have occurred had the proper diagnosis been made promptly.
  4. Patient Must Have Suffered Tangible Harm (Damages): Finally, damages are a required part of a medical malpractice claim in Illinois. In order to bring a successful medical malpractice claim on the basis of failure to diagnose, a patient must prove that they suffered actual medical complications and real damages (medical bills, pain and suffering, etc). 

Qualified Expert Witness Testimony is Required to Establish the Standard of Care

Medical malpractice cases fall under state law. If you were the victim of medical negligence in Chicago, your case will be governed by Illinois law. Notably, there are some key procedural requirements that must be satisfied to bring a claim in our state. Under Illinois law (735 ILCS 5/8-2501), establishing the standard of care in a medical malpractice case necessitates testimony from a qualified expert witness. 

The expert—typically a licensed healthcare professional practicing in a similar field as the defendant—is crucial in confirming what a competent physician would have done under comparable circumstances. The testimony helps the jury understand complex medical issues and determines whether the defendant deviated from the accepted standard of care. Patients should work with a Chicago medical malpractice lawyer who can connect them with the right expert witness for the failure to diagnose case. 

Recovering Compensation for Medical Malpractice in Illinois

Were you the victim of medical malpractice on the basis of a diagnostic error in Illinois? You have a right to pursue compensation for your damages. Unfortunately, the big insurance carriers that defend medical malpractice claims are known to be highly aggressive. They want to pay out less to victims and families. Our Chicago medical malpractice lawyers are committed to helping victims secure the maximum financial support. You may be able to recover money damages for: 

  • Emergency room care; 
  • Hospital bills; 
  • Other health care costs; 
  • Rehabilitative treatment; 
  • Mental health counseling; 
  • Lost wages; 
  • Loss of earning power; 
  • Pain and suffering; 
  • Mental anguish; 
  • Long-term disability; 
  • Loss of quality of life; and
  • Wrongful death. 

Note: Unlike in some other jurisdictions, Illinois does not have a statutory cap on medical malpractice damages. 

How the Chicago Medical Malpractice Lawyers at Kennedy Watkins Can Help

Medical malpractice claims are among the most complex types of accident/injury cases. Doctors and hospitals are represented by aggressive medical malpractice insurance carriers. These insurance providers fight hard to pay out as little as possible in the claims process—denying compensation at all if they can get away with it. At Kennedy Watkins LLC, our team of Chicago attorneys have the knowledge, skills, and expertise to take on all types of medical malpractice claims, including failure to diagnose cases. We encourage you to review our verdicts and settlements and to reach out to our Chicago medical malpractice lawyers directly with specific questions about your rights or options. 

Set Up a Free Consultation With Our Chicago Medical Malpractice Lawyer Today

At Kennedy Watkins LLC, our Chicago medical malpractice attorneys are skilled, experienced, and solutions-focused advocates for patients. If you or your loved one suffered medical complications caused by a doctor’s failure to provide a timely and accurate diagnosis, we are here to help. Get in touch with us today to set up your free, no obligation, and strictly confidential case review. From our Chicago office, we handle medical malpractice cases in Cook County and throughout the region.

Attorney Watkins
Attorney Watkins Attorney Kennedy



Attorney Kennedy