Ask a Cook County Medical Malpractice Lawyer about Medical Misdiagnosis
One of the most common medical mistakes is disease misdiagnosis, or failure to diagnose. When warning signs or symptoms present themselves, it is critical for the doctor to recognize warning signs accurately, promptly diagnose them and then either develop a treatment regimen or refer the patient to a specialist. If the proper action isn’t taken, then the patient and his or her family may need the help of a Cook County medical malpractice lawyer.
The majority of initial diagnoses of all diseases is done by family doctors or in trauma centers. In either event, it is critical that physicians make appropriate initial diagnoses when a life-threatening emergency or complex disease is encountered.
Early detection and diagnosis have a significant impact on long-term patient prognosis. So, if a doctor fails to diagnose the condition in a manner that a reasonable doctor would, the patient likely was deprived of proper treatment, which can justify a medical malpractice lawsuit based on misdiagnosis.
Life-Threatening Diseases if Misdiagnosed
Though any injury or disease can be misdiagnosed, the following are believed to be the most life threatening to the patient.
- Brain Injury: The two most common brain injury misdiagnoses involve patients who suffer closed-head traumatic brain injury (TBI) and undetected effects due to a stroke. In both of these cases, the fault often lies with emergency room doctors. If a closed-head injury is misdiagnosed, then it can become severe or even life threatening. A study from Johns Hopkins University suggests that ER doctors overlook early signs of serious strokes in tens of thousands of American every year, commonly sending ER visitors who complain of dizziness or headaches home.
- Neck Injury: Though neck fractures can be diagnosed with x-rays, Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) and Computed Tomography CT Scans, some doctors fail to order these diagnostic tests because they mistake such symptoms as soft-tissue injuries or other less serious ailments. Untreated neck fractures often lead to serious complications such as sudden paralysis that requires emergency surgery if the patient hopes to recover fully. Sometimes, the surgery is performed too late. The longer a neck fracture goes untreated, the more serious the outcome.
- Meningitis: Meningitis is a life-threatening condition that makes the disease an emergency when patients seek medical treatment. But a diagnosis of meningitis may not occur due to the wide range of symptoms that may suggest a variety of afflictions, few of which are life-threatening and many being common ailments. The most pernicious manifestation – Acute Bacterial Meningitis – can progress quite rapidly and result in sudden death, often in a day or two. A correct diagnosis involves one or more specialized tests. But tests may not be ordered in time if there is a misdiagnosis.
- Heart Attack: Coronary heart disease is the leading cause of death in both American men and women. Prompt diagnosis and treatment is necessary to reduce the risk of serious complications or death. Symptoms and warning signs sometimes can mask themselves and make predicting a heart attack difficult. Often a mild heart attack can be mistaken for fatigue or indigestion, only to be followed shortly after being misdiagnosed by a massive, fatal heart attack.
- Cancer: When a doctor misdiagnoses cancer symptoms, thereby not referring the patient to an oncologist, it can have tragic implications on the patient’s health and life. The odds of surviving many cancers significantly diminish if too much time passes between misdiagnosis and recognizing cancer.
When a doctor misdiagnoses a serious disease, he or she deprives a patient of timely action that could save his or her life. Misdiagnosis often occurs when a doctor fails to give the proper time and attention to patients or minimizes their complaints. Negligent misdiagnosis is medical malpractice.
If you or a family member suffered serious injury or wrongful death due to a doctor’s misdiagnosis, Buttafuoco and Associates’ experienced Cook County medical malpractice lawyers offer a free consultation. Contact us anytime by calling 1-800-NOW-HURT or fill out our online contact form.