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TOO LITTLE TOO LATE: DELAYED DIAGNOSIS IS MEDICAL MALPRACTICE

The term "medical malpractice" can summon images of dramatic mistakes: surgeons amputating the wrong limb or leaving instruments in a patient's body cavity; improper use of forceps during childbirth leading to brain damage; medication errors that result in death. But medical malpractice can also involve doctors arriving at the correct diagnosis so late that the patient suffers harm. 

Such was the case recently, resulting in a jury awarding a mother and her son $10.1 million after physicians at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia failed to diagnose the son's bacterial meningitis in a timely manner. The mother and son had come to the emergency room three times over three days before the son's condition was properly diagnosed and treated. But by that time the child had already suffered hearing loss, developmental delays, loss of balance and a language disorder as a result of the untreated infection. 

Sometimes physicians don't catch a diagnosis at all, late or not. Missed diagnosis cases, similarly, can also constitute medical malpractice. 

Pennsylvania has taken steps in recent years to cut down the number of medical malpractice lawsuits. It seems to be working: there has been nearly a 50% decline in the number of malpractice cases filed in Pennsylvania since 2002. This is not to say, however, that it is impossible for people who have been hurt through the negligence of a medical provider to secure justice. It simply means that it's that much more important for people who have been hurt in this manner to find and work with an experienced and dedicated personal injury lawyer who knows how to handle all types of medical malpractice cases, including missed diagnosis and delayed diagnosis. 

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