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Getting the Help You Need: How to Address a Delayed Diagnosis


— June 25, 2021

Timely diagnosis of injuries, diseases, and illnesses is crucial to getting the best possible outcome.


You know something is wrong. You haven’t felt right in a while, and you finally sought medical advice, only to be told that no illness, disease, or injury is present. It’s frustrating when all you want is to be “fixed,” but there is no diagnosis. What can you do?

Here are five techniques to use to get some answers from the office of a prominent medical malpractice lawyer.

  1. Take Notes

When you don’t feel well, your first step is likely to make an appointment to see your primary care doctor. Usually, primary care doctors are generalists, which is not to say that they lack experience or expertise in various illnesses, but that it is important to know that your doctor may not have specialized knowledge of your particular condition.

At your examination, listen carefully to what your doctor says and ask questions if you do not understand what is being said. Also, be sure to disclose all symptoms or problems you have and any changes in lifestyle, diet, weight, and medication so that your doctor can assess your condition to the best of their ability.

Suppose your primary care physician cannot come up with a ready diagnosis. In that case, they should order additional tests such as bloodwork, a CT scan, a stress test, or an MRI, to name a few, in order to get more information about your condition. If they do not, ask what you should do at this point. 

Do not under any circumstances allow your primary care doctor to dissuade you from pursuing a diagnosis and treatment for your condition. Unfortunately, there are doctors who will brush off a patient’s concerns when no ready diagnosis applies. Only you can tell when you are feeling unwell, and if they can’t figure it out, the answer is not to ignore it or downplay it. The answer is to seek further information.

  1. Ask About Additional Tests

Do not be intimidated by your primary care physician. Sure, they have considerable education and hopefully experience, but don’t let them convince you that nothing is wrong with you when you know that something is wrong.

Ask if some additional tests would be helpful. A basic blood panel is the least they should order. If your complaint is acute and specific to one site, the doctor might order an X-ray to see if there is local injury or disease.

  1. Ask to See a Specialist

If tests come back inconclusive or your primary care physician will not order additional tests, ask for a referral to a specialist. Your primary care physician may not see a reason to write that referral, so insist. If you are unsuccessful, call your health insurance provider and make your case to see a specialist.

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Don’t know what specialist you need? Your health insurance provider will ask you for your symptoms and can direct you to someone who specializes in that area. For example, if you have an unexplained rash, you might see a dermatologist or an immunologist. If you have periods of erratic heartbeats, you might see a cardiology specialist.

  1. Get a Second Opinion

Again, do not take no for an answer. If you do not have your health, you have nothing. If no one in your usual chain of medical care has answers for you, you need to seek additional medical advice on your own.

These days many people discover what is possibly wrong with them via Google. There is nothing wrong with taking your research to your primary care doctor, a specialist, or a doctor outside your network for their opinion. Any of these medical professionals should be able to rule out possible diagnoses, if not discover the actual diagnosis.

  1. If a Delay in Diagnosis Harms You, Seek Legal Advice

Timely diagnosis of injuries, diseases, and illnesses is crucial to getting the best possible outcome. If you’ve pursued diagnosis of your condition with several medical professionals only to be told months or years after your first complaint that your condition is much worse than it would have been had it been identified sooner, you should seek legal advice. 

You may be entitled to compensation if:

  • you reported your symptoms, but your doctor dismissed them;
  • your test results were lost or incorrectly collected or interpreted;
  • your doctor notes that they see something wrong but does not order further tests;
  • your doctor fails to refer you to a specialist, even when it’s clear they should.

At this more advanced stage of your condition, you will likely have greater medical bills and may suffer some loss of quality of life. Those medical professionals who did not or could not diagnose you are insured against mistakes and negligence like this. Be sure to consult with a medical malpractice attorney who can assess your right to compensation for medical expenses and ongoing treatment as well as pain and suffering.

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