Dismissal of a patient’s symptoms and failure to appropriately diagnose and treat may constitute medical malpractice. When a person experiences advanced illness and poor outcomes in this situation, the doctor may be legally negligent.

Learn more about how the court evaluates medical malpractice in this type of situation.

The reasonable prudence standard

The law requires the court to consider the diagnoses that a “reasonably prudent” doctor may have made given the person’s symptoms. Generally, doctors make a list of potential diagnoses in order of probability. When other doctors would have included the person’s eventual diagnosis on this list, a ruling of medical malpractice may be appropriate. The health care provider may also be responsible if he or she listed the person’s diagnosis and failed to rule it out.

Actions included in failure to treat

You may have legal standing in a medical malpractice case if your health care provider:

  • Did not adhere to the quality standards of medical care
  • Did not treat you quickly enough for stroke or heart attack in the emergency room
  • Did not treat you because you did not have sufficient insurance coverage
  • Did not let you know about potential treatments for your condition
  • Did not treat a medical condition quickly enough or at all
  • Did not recommend necessary specialist care
  • Did not perform recommended diagnostic tests
  • Did not sufficiently monitor your health

The role of a medical expert

When you file a claim for medical malpractice, you must include a certificate of merit from a health care practitioner. While this person need not be an expert who will testify in your case, he or she must have the experience, knowledge or training to indicate whether your doctor’s conduct fell outside reasonable prudence.

Poor outcomes may not develop until months or years after failure to treat occurs. In Pennsylvania, you have up to seven years from the alleged negligence to file a medical malpractice lawsuit. The court can award both monetary and non-monetary damages in this type of case.