Medical Misdiagnosis or Delayed Diagnosis
We place a lot of trust in doctors, nurses and other medical personnel to help address an injury or find a cure for our ailment. When we go into a doctor’s office, our singular focus is to understand the problem and what we need to do to address it.
While mistakes in certain areas of life can easily be remedied, mistakes or delays in diagnosing an illness or condition can have drastic consequences, some of which can be fatal. Unfortunately, misdiagnosis happens more than you may think. According to figures published in BMJ Quality and Safety, more than 12 million adults seeking outpatient medical care suffer a misdiagnosis each year. This translates into 1 in 20 adult patients in the United States. Of these misdiagnoses, half of them have the potential to cause severe harm according to researchers.
Medical Misdiagnosis or Delayed Diagnosis in Florida
The consequence of either misdiagnosing or delaying a diagnosis varies all the way from a minor inconvenience to catastrophic experience or even fatal disease. A quick search of “misdiagnosis consequences” or “misdiagnosis examples” yields a plethora of results.
A misdiagnosis can happen to anyone, too, including doctors themselves. For example, Dr. Itzhak Brook, a specialist at the Georgetown University School of Medicine, was told in 2006 that his throat pain was caused by acid reflux, not cancer. Seven months later, a resident at the same Maryland hospital used a simple procedure to spot a tumor about the size of a peach pit. To address the issue, Dr. Brook had to undergo surgery to remove his voice box. Although he is grateful to be alive, the impact of the surgery reduced his speaking voice to a whisper.
Conversely, a misdiagnosis could mean a patient undergoes a surgery he or she doesn’t actually need. For example, if a doctor identifies a tumor as malignant when in reality it is benign, the unnecessary surgery could affect the patient’s health and income.
Common Types of Medical Misdiagnosis
A misdiagnosis or delayed diagnosis can come in many forms. Unsurprisingly, they are more common in emergency room (ER) settings due to increased levels of stress and time pressures. Any uncommon illnesses have a much higher chance of misdiagnosis in the ER setting.
Some common ways doctors and other healthcare professionals can make a misdiagnosis include:
- The doctor misidentifies an illness or makes a diagnosis when in reality nothing was wrong.
- The doctor gives the patient the all clear when in fact something is wrong.
- The correct diagnosis is eventually reached, but after considerable delay. This is the most common diagnosis error.
- The doctor and medical staff fail to anticipate complications that can change or further inflame the original issue(s).
- Doctors can also correctly diagnose one disease while failing to diagnose a related or unrelated second disease.
According to a report in Everyday Health, the 10 most commonly misdiagnosed medical conditions include cancer, heart attack, depression, celiac disease, stroke, lyme disease, fibromyalgia, thyroid conditions, aortic dissection and pulmonary embolism.
Proving Fault in Medical Misdiagnosis or Delayed Diagnosis
The impacts of a misdiagnosis or delayed diagnosis can be devastating on you or a loved one. If you had to undergo a surgery only to find out later that it was unnecessary, you may have been unnecessarily subjected to permanent scarring, lost wages and more. Also, delayed diagnosis sometimes means a condition will continue to get worse, which could possibly lead to complications or stage advancement to the point that it is untreatable.
It’s important to note that just because a misdiagnosis occurs doesn’t automatically mean the doctor is guilty of medical malpractice.
Several criteria have to be met in order for a misdiagnosis or delayed diagnosis to be considered medical malpractice, including:
- Did a doctor-patient relationship exist?
- Did the doctor act within generally accepted standards of care?
- Did the error cause harm?
For example, if it is determined your physician acted within the generally accepted standards of care in your particular situation, he or she will not be held liable. However, if it’s determined the doctor was not competent and his or her error caused you grave harm, he or she can be held responsible for any additional treatments, lost wages, pain and suffering, and more.
Medical Malpractice Lawyers in Gainesville
Attorneys Marc Warner, Michael Sechrest and support staff possess extensive experience and work tirelessly to identify whether a misdiagnosis or delayed diagnosis indeed constitutes medical malpractice. If it is determined your situation qualifies as medical malpractice, both attorneys have the experience necessary to vigorously represent your interests inside and outside of the courtroom.
It’s important you speak with our personal injury lawyers as soon as possible since there are time limitations (statute of limitations) in which you can file a claim. Your attorney will require ample time to determine if malpractice did occur, which is why it’s important you not delay in speaking with someone about your case.
If you or a loved one has been adversely affected by a misdiagnosis or delayed diagnosis, or a misdiagnosis or delayed diagnosis has resulted in a wrongful death, we strongly urge you to contact our office anytime day or night for a free consultation. Don’t let someone else’s mistake place additional burdens on your health and financial well-being.