In the United States, approximately 371,000 people die, and 424,000 people suffer permanent disabilities due to a medical misdiagnosis each year, according to a recent report published by BMJ Quality and Safety. When misdiagnosis is not fatal, it can result in permanent disabilities that are devastating, including blindness, brain damage, metastasized cancer, and the loss of limbs or organs.
Described as “errors of omission,” diagnostic errors are often due to doctors attributing certain non-specific symptoms to a more common and less serious condition or disease rather than the serious condition responsible for the patient’s symptoms. If you suspect you or a loved one was harmed because of misdiagnosis errors, reach out to a skilled Indiana medical malpractice attorney who will hold those responsible accountable.
Conditions Most Likely to Be Misdiagnosed
The report shows that nearly 40% of the deaths and permanent disabilities are due to errors in diagnosing the following five conditions:
- Stroke – Nine percent of strokes are not properly diagnosed at the patient’s first contact with a medical provider.
- Sepsis – Multiple organ failure is possible if there is a delay in diagnosing a patient with sepsis.
- Pneumonia – Doctors can mistake pneumonia for asthma, the flu, sinus infections, or the common cold.
- Venous thromboembolism – Failure to diagnose venous thromboembolism can lead to a fatal pulmonary embolism.
- Lung cancer – Lung cancer is the second most common cancer in the United States. It is also the most deadly form of cancer.
Causes for Diagnosis Errors
Misdiagnosis errors can occur in the following ways:
- Failure to diagnose – A doctor can fail to diagnose a patient’s disease or condition by failing to recognize the symptoms.
- Wrong diagnosis – If a doctor diagnoses a patient with the wrong disease or condition, their treatment plan will not be appropriate for the patient’s actual condition.
- Delayed diagnosis – If the doctor fails to timely diagnose the disease or condition, a delay in treatment could have devastating, or even fatal, consequences.
How Misdiagnosis Hurts a Patient
A misdiagnosis can have life-threatening consequences. Doctor errors hurt patients when their misdiagnoses cause a delay that prevents the patient from receiving the critical care they need. For example, a patient may be required to follow a painful, expensive treatment plan which could have been a second or third option for treatment had the disease or condition been accurately and promptly diagnosed.
Failure to timely diagnose or a misdiagnosis of a disease or condition may also mean the disease will spread or worsen, decreasing the patient’s chance of survival. Tragically, a misdiagnosis may ultimately mean an untimely death.
Legal Options After a Misdiagnosis
After you discover your misdiagnosis, consult with a medical malpractice attorney immediately. An attorney can determine whether you have a claim for compensation related to your misdiagnosis. With an experienced lawyer on your side, you can be confident your case will be handled appropriately while you focus on your treatment and recovery.
Kelley J. Johnson has over 15 years of litigation experience. Our firm brings passion, skill, and knowledge to all our cases, including those that deal with healthcare providers’ medical mistakes. We can review the facts and circumstances of your case, obtain medical records and other evidence, assess potential liability, and handle the legal process for you. Contact us today to discuss your case. Kelly J. Johnson is the Indiana Medical Malpractice Attorney who’s here for you.