The attorneys at the Brannon Law Firm handle medical malpractice cases, including those involving Serious Illness Misdiagnosis. If you have been injured as the result of a Serious Illness Misdiagnosis and you believe it may have been caused by medical malpractice or negligence, it is in your benefit to seek out more information. Information on what Serious Illness Misdiagnosis is and what it might mean for you can be found below. Additionally, the medical malpractice attorneys at the Brannon Law Firm invite you to contact us, either at (937) 228-2306 or 1-800-VERDICT to discuss your potential claim.
What is a Serious Illness Misdiagnosis?
Serious Illness Misdiagnosis occurs when there is a failure by a doctor or medical professional to correctly identify and treat a serious medical condition. This often occurs in two different ways: misdiagnosis and missed diagnosis. Without a correct identification of an illness, proper or timely treatment cannot occur.
Misdiagnosis occurs when a doctor diagnoses the patient’s symptoms to an incorrect condition and orders incorrect treatments. The doctor believes the patient has a certain condition, when in fact the patient does not have that condition but rather a different one. Often times, the subsequent treatment ordered by the doctor is useless, because it isn’t treating the correct condition. In some cases, the incorrect treatment may even be harmful to the patient. Moreover, the original illness is not being managed and is likely to further injure the patient.
Similarly, a missed diagnosis occurs when the doctor fails to recognize and categorize the symptoms at all, likely resulting in no treatment being ordered. The doctor believes that the patient has no medical condition, when the patient in fact does have a medical condition. Thus, often no treatment is ordered, when treatment is in fact needed to help with the patient’s now undiagnosed condition. Under this circumstance the original illness continues to advance and harm the patient. This missed diagnoses may even result in death if the mistake is not caught in time.
Oftentimes doctors will use a differential diagnosis process to try and figure out what condition a patient might have. The process is one of elimination, as doctors systematically rule out potential conditions. Generally, the doctor starts with the most serious and life-threatening conditions before moving on to the less serious. The doctor will ask about symptoms the patient is experiencing and order testing, attempting to eliminate the symptoms that are connected to multiple conditions. An example of differential diagnosis going wrong would be a patient relaying symptoms of a heart attack to a doctor, and the doctor diagnosing gastritis or heart burn. Even though those conditions may have similar symptoms, differential diagnosis should cause the doctor focus on the possibility of a heart attack first, only allowing the doctor to move to the less serious conditions after eliminating the possibility of a heart attack, usually with diagnostic testing.
Some reasons why a doctor may make a misdiagnosis:
- Unidentified pain or vague symptoms
- Symptoms are similar, making differential diagnosis difficult
- Doctor does not have training for advanced diseases
- The doctor made a choice to diagnose a condition that was cheaper to treat
- Doctor ordered the wrong test
- Doctor ordered no test at all
- Doctor didn’t spend enough time with the patient
- Human error such as mislabeled files or test results
The danger to the patient of a Serious Illness Misdiagnosis is the subsequent lack of proper treatment. If a patient is receiving no treatment for a condition that they have, all the negative effects of that condition are occurring without anything preventing them. The longer the delay of the treatment, the worse the negative effects grow, potentially causing more harm and potentially reaching a point where they are not treatable at all, even if they had been treatable previously. If a patient is receiving treatment, but for a condition they do not have, then that treatment is likely useless. Sometimes, if the treatment is harmful on its own, such as chemotherapy used to treat cancer, the patient may be receiving harmful treatment in addition to feeling the negative effects of the untreated condition as well.
Serious Illness Misdiagnosis is dangerous because patients rely on doctors to ensure they receive the necessary treatment they need to get better. A misdiagnosis can prevent that treatment from happening and serious harm can result. In some cases, such as with heart attack or stroke, the misdiagnosis can lead to serious injury, disability, and even death.
Some examples of serious illnesses that are misdiagnosed:
- Heart attack or risk of heart attack – Failure to recognize that a heart attack occurred may prevent proper after-care. Failure to recognize increased risks of a heart attack may prevent proper treatment in order to prevent a heart attack.
- Pulmonary Embolism – This is a blockage of an artery in the lungs, often occurring after a surgery or during hospitalization. It is important for doctors to be aware of the possibility of this occurring, and to be ready to diagnose and treat it.
- Appendicitis – While symptoms may be as vague as pain in the abdomen, appendicitis carries the possibility of death if left undiagnosed and untreated.
- Stroke or risk of stroke – Much like with a heart attack, failure to recognize that a stroke occurred may prevent proper after-care. Failure to recognize increased risks of a stroke may prevent proper treatment in order to prevent a stroke.
- Meningitis – Meningitis shares similar symptoms with the flu, but can have much more severe consequences. Thus it is important for doctors to rule out the possibility of meningitis before proceeding to diagnosing something generally less serious, like the flu.
- Pneumonia – Pneumonia can carry serious negative effects and even result in death if a patient does not receive proper treatment.
- Infections – Infections can occur due to a variety of reason, and doctors should be on the lookout for some potential serious side effects that may come from an infection.
- Cancer – Patients rely on early diagnosis and early treatment for the best chances of beating cancer.
Medical and Legal Significance of a Serious Illness Misdiagnosis
In some instances of Serious Illness Misdiagnosis can form the basis of a claim for medical malpractice or medical negligence. This is not true in all cases. In some cases, a doctor may identify appropriate risk factors, conduct all the proper tests, correctly analyze the results, and still not discover or diagnose a serious illness or medical condition. There is often some potential for misdiagnosis with any doctor-patient interaction. The process of diagnosing can be difficult, requiring extensive knowledge on behalf of the doctor, accurate information from the patient and appropriate diagnostic testing. Every situation is unique, and it can be hard to discover a concrete reason for a patient’s pain or symptoms. It may be that a doctor performs all the correct procedures in the correct fashion, and orders all the correct tests, and still has a missed diagnosis.
However, many serious illnesses carry a number of risk factors that can increase the chance of the serious illness occurring. It is important for doctors and other medical professionals to observe those risk factors, analyze them and react to them in a proper manner. The presence of risk factors may warrant testing or preventative treatment. Failure to monitor and address those risk factors may cause a delay in diagnosis or a misdiagnosis. When a doctor or other medical professional fails to follow the proper procedures for diagnosing a patient there is a higher likelihood that risk facts will be missed.
By following proper medical procedures for diagnosing an illness it is much more likely that doctors will find symptoms of an illness. It is important for doctors and other medical professionals to be aware of symptoms and what may be indicated by the presence of those symptoms. This may require additional questioning of the patient, ordering of tests, or other medical procedures. Doctors and medical professionals must be sure to perform all tests and procedures in the proper fashion in order to have the most accurate and complete diagnosis possible, as well as to ensure ordering of proper and effective treatment. Failure to do so may result in a misdiagnosis, as well as improper treatment. This can cause harm or injury that would have otherwise been avoidable.
It is the responsibility of doctors and other medical professionals to respond to the possibility of serious illness in the correct manner and with the most correct diagnosis possible. Failure to do so may be medical malpractice or medical negligence.
Seeking Legal Counsel and Guidance
If you have suffered an injury due to a Serious Illness Misdiagnosis you may have a claim for medical malpractice or medical negligence. The medical malpractice attorneys at the Brannon Law Firm have the skill and experience to discover whether your health issues are a result of a Serious Illness Misdiagnosis and whether those health issues could have been avoided or prevented. Medical malpractice and medical negligence is preventable. It is caused by the error, improper action, or lack of action by medical professionals. It is important to hold those medical professionals to the proper standards of medical care and to hold them accountable for the harms and losses they may cause. The Brannon Law Firm can help hold those at fault accountable.
Additionally, your treatment may be difficult, both financially and emotionally. Treatments for serious illnesses, such as a heart attack or pulmonary embolism, can be intensive and require a large amount of effort and work. If you have received a misdiagnosis, resulting in a delay in treatment, than the treatment may actually be even more intensive, in order to make up for lost time. Efforts to fix or reverse a Serious Illness Misdiagnosis can be severe and long lasting, requiring additional medical treatment, loss of quality of life, loss of income and costly medical bills. It is important to ensure you have the assistance and care that you deserve to live the best life possible. The Brannon Law Firm can help with that process.
At the Brannon Law Firm, we have represented many individuals who were unfortunate victims of a Serious Illness Misdiagnosis. We have obtained favorable verdicts and settlements on behalf of clients in Serious Illness Misdiagnosis cases. We invite you to contact us for a free consoltation, either at 937-228-2306 or 1-800-VERDICT. You may also contact us online. The Brannon Law Firm is proud to serve clients in Dayton and throughout the State of Ohio.