Misdiagnosis and delayed diagnosis are among the most common medical errors and result in many medical malpractice claims. Some sources say that as many as 40% of medical malpractice cases are from misdiagnosis or delay in diagnosis. Misdiagnosis and delayed diagnosis are a clear patient safety problem.
Misdiagnosis and delay diagnosis medical malpractice occurs in many settings. For example, a doctor might diagnose a muscle strain in the chest or back, when in fact the patient is having a heart attack.
A delayed diagnosis is a related problem that occurs when the correct diagnosis is given but after a delay that harms the patient. Delayed diagnoses often occur when a doctor fails to timely order tests such as lab work, colonoscopies or breast imaging studies.
Misdiagnosis are especially dangerous. In such cases, two bad things are often happening. First, the patient is not receiving the treatment needed for the medical problem they actually have. Second, the patient may be treated for an illness he or she does not have for the improperly diagnosed condition. The unnecessary treatment often times causes injury to the patient.
For example, we worked on a case where a doctor failed to diagnose MALT lymphoma and instead diagnosed and treated the patient for a condition known as CVID. The patient was given a bone marrow transplant that actually made his MALT lymphoma worse, ultimately leading to his death.
Delayed diagnosis may be the most common diagnostic error made by doctors. The consequences of these errors can be catastrophic, particularly when conditions like cancer are involved.
For example, we worked on a case recently where the patient had a pre-operative chest x-ray that showed a lung nodule. The nodule was reported to the ordering surgeon; however, the surgeon never told the patient, or any of the patient’s treating doctors. Two years passed and the small nodule that was the size of a fingernail turned into an inoperable lung mass the size of a fist. The two year delay in diagnosing the lung cancer was the difference between life and death.
The civil justice system plays an important part in improving the quality of patient care. The system holds doctors and hospitals accountable for their medical errors. For good reason, doctors and hospitals are held in high regard in our society, and they are paid handsomely for their expertise. When they fail to live up to this trust, they should be held accountable, just as the rest of us are accountable for our actions.
We help people who have been injured by misdiagnosis and delay diagnosis medical malpractice. We offer a free consultation so that you may discuss your concerns with an experienced attorney. Contact us online or call our St. Louis office at 314-862-6865 to schedule your free initial consultation. When you meet with us, ask about:
- Evening and weekend appointments
- Home and hospital visits
- No attorneys fees unless you collect