My Doctor Failed To Diagnose Me Properly, Now What?

Delayed diagnosis is when there is a time delay between a person seeing a physician and the correct diagnosis of their present condition. It is one of the most common reasons for medical malpractice lawsuits. A delayed diagnosis of any type is especially problematic in any situation where a prompt diagnosis leads to a higher cure rate. According to a study that Mayo Clinic Proceedings conducted, this is true even though there have been significant advances in diagnostic patient monitoring, diagnostic techniques and medical technology. It also added that the number of missed diagnoses has not essentially changed over the past 20 to 30 years.

Aside from that, a 2012 study that the Johns Hopkins Institute conducted on patient safety and quality found that as many as 40,500 critically ill American patients die each year with an improperly diagnosed medical condition that may have contributed to or caused their death. A diagnostic error can cause a patient to undergo unnecessary medical testing and treatment. It can also delay crucial action. In the worst cases, it can lead to a patient’s death. For wronged patients and their families, the only recourse is to seek compensation for their emotional, financial and personal harm through a lawsuit.

Common Misdiagnosed Medical Conditions

  • Aneurysm
    • Before people determine what to do next, there are a number of conditions that are commonly misdiagnosed by a doctor. One of them is aneurysm. Aneurysm is the ballooning of a weak portion of a blood vessel.
    • The danger of a misdiagnosed aneurysm is that it can burst like a balloon, and severe internal bleeding can follow. Failure to properly or timely diagnose an aneurysm can lead doctors to be held liable for medical malpractice.
  • Bowel Perforation
    • The digestive tract is the pathway that runs from the anus to the mouth through which food is processed. The bowel, also known as the colon or large intestine, is the end of the digestive tract. Waste products from the digestive tract are stored there until there is a bowel movement.
    • As a result of surgery, digestive disease, diet and trauma, the bowel can become blocked or obstructed. When that happens, the food that has stopped traveling through the digestive tract eventually causes bowel perforation. Failure to diagnose a bowel obstruction or treat bowel perforation can often lead to sepsis and, without intravenous antibiotics or corrective surgery, death.
  • Cancer
    • At any given time, there are an estimated 11 million Americans living with cancer. On a yearly basis, it causes 1.5 million deaths. Although most people who are diagnosed with cancer are 66 years and above, it can occur at any age.
    • A lot of people who have symptoms of cancer never receive a timely diagnosis because doctors incorrectly assign patient complaints to non-cancerous causes, fail to appreciate them, fail to order appropriate diagnostic studies and fail to make a referral to a specialist.
    • As a consequence of cancer misdiagnosis, time passes without the right treatment. With the passage of time, cancer grows. As it advances, the risks of wrongful death increase while the chances of remission decrease.
  • Gestational Diabetes
    • Gestational diabetes is a pregnancy complication that involves high blood sugar levels. It is one of the most common complications that affect 2 to 5 percent of women. Usually, it is diagnosed between 24 to 48 weeks of gestation.
    • Undiagnosed gestational diabetes can be dangerous. This is because women who are suffering from it deliver large babies that can increase the risk of vaginal birth complications. This includes birth injuries, shoulder dislocation, ischemia and hypoxia. Aside from that, they are also at risk for complications involving high blood pressure.
  • Heart Attack
    • Although the signs of a heart attack are well known, they frequently fail to be diagnosed because of medical malpractice. Whether due to emergency medicine malpractice, internist malpractice, cardiology malpractice or some other medical mistake, it can have devastating consequences because heart muscle dies every minute that the right treatment is delayed. It often results in death. Heart attacks often fail to be diagnosed and are mistaken for a pulled muscle, gallstones, fractured ribs, acid reflux and angina.
  • Meningitis
    • Meningitis is a medical condition that involves the inflammation of membranes that cover the spinal cord and the brain. A bacterium, microorganism, drug or virus are usually the main cause. If it is not diagnosed, it can be fatal. This is especially true in infants.

Organize and Ask

When people believe that their physician has failed to diagnose them properly, there are a number of things that they should do. One of them is to organize their thoughts and questions on a piece of paper. They should take this paper to their doctor’s appointment. They can even make two copies so that one goes in their medical file and the other stays in their possession.

Aside from that, they should make a record of their discussions with their doctors. They should read their thoughts and questions right from the paper if necessary. With this, they can bring up concerns about a diagnosis with a doctor that can be intimidating. Writing everything down ahead of time will let them organize their thoughts and help people not forget important points. They should then ask their doctor what they know about the disease and how it can mimic other diseases.

Obtain a Second Opinion

A second opinion is an important tool for ensuring people and their loved ones that they are getting optimal treatment for a condition. In about one in five cases, a second opinion results in a different diagnosis. Whether or not a second opinion results in a different diagnosis, it can be very beneficial. This is because it can confirm a diagnosis and help people get proper treatment. It can also give people more information about their condition. Aside from that, the second doctor may offer different treatment options and can explain these to help people decide what is best.

Understanding their condition and treatment options is very important for a person in making informed decisions about their medical care. Committing to treatment can also improve its effectiveness.

Getting a second opinion is very easy. A person’s doctor will not be offended if they mention that they want one. They can start by asking their doctor to recommendations another practice or doctor to go for a second opinion.

They may also ask their insurance company for recommendations as well. In addition, they can ask friends and family who have similar conditions about their physician or check local directories. Unfortunately, not getting a second opinion can lead to a failure in diagnose and either inappropriate treatment or no treatment.

It is also a good idea to get a third opinion as well. It sometimes takes a group of physicians sharing their findings to arrive at the course of treatment or correct diagnosis.

Act Quickly

Another thing that people should do when they believe that their physician has failed to diagnose them properly is to act quickly. They should always trust their instincts. Shortening the time between the presentation of symptoms and a correct diagnosis can stop them from suffering unnecessarily. It can also prevent more severe symptoms and invasive treatments further down the line. When a patient is dealing with a life-threatening condition, early diagnosis can help them avoid the worst from happening and provide time to enjoy with those who are closest with them.

Aside from that, acting quickly can increase a person’s odds in winning a case. This is because their doctors will not have enough time to alter their records and keep them away from the court of law. Additionally, some states allow the delay to give patients an appropriate diagnosis.

There is a general rule in the state of Pennsylvania that a medical malpractice lawsuit that is filed on behalf or by an adult patient should be brought within two and a half years from the omission or act constituting the practice. The problem with time limitations in cases of failed diagnosis such as cancer is that they may be too late by the time that people are properly diagnosed.

Keep a Diary

When people believe that their attending physician has failed to diagnose them properly, it is important to keep a diary of their day-to-day medical occurrences. This helps them build a case of their concerns. It also reveals what their lawyer needs to know in order to make a case as well as a plan for winning it. Keeping a record is also a good idea to evaluate their own progress. They can do this all the time and not just when they want to clarify a diagnosis.

Hire a Lawyer

Another option that a lot of people recommend is to obtain the services of a medical malpractice lawyer. These legal professionals have the knowledge and experience to prove that the attending physician has failed to diagnose them properly in a court of law.

Aside from that, they can inform a person of their rights and help people select the correct course of action. They are accustomed to working with top experts in all medical specialties and are able to recover significant settlements for clients. They also consult medical experts who will review the case and note what shortcomings and mistakes were made in the treatment.

  • Proving Through Errors in Diagnostic Tests

One of the ways that a lawyer can help people is by proving that the failed diagnosis was due to a diagnostic error. Although the law does not hold a physician legally responsible for all diagnostic errors, a medical malpractice lawyer can prove it in cases where they are.

They show prove that it was not due to faulty diagnostic equipment that a lot of defense lawyers will try to argue. Doctors can misread laboratory results, and laboratory technicians sometimes utilize an improper procedure that cause the result to be read inaccurately. They can also prove that the doctor probably missed something in a pathology or x-ray report.

  • The Existence of a Patient to Doctor Relationship

Another way that a defense lawyer can help people with a failed diagnosis case is by showing that there is the presence of a doctor to patient relationship. This means that the doctor has a duty of care to the patient that they failed to uphold.

Although there is no agreement between the patient and the doctor, the law assumes that there is an agreement under certain circumstances. For instance, if the family member of a patient seeks treatment for an unconscious relative, the law assumes that there is some form of agreement between the patient and the doctor even if they are unable to make one.

  • Proving Negligence

A delayed diagnosis itself is not evidence of medical negligence. A skillful doctor can make errors even when they are using reasonable care. However, medical malpractice lawyers can help their clients claim they did not act competently.

They do this by evaluating what the doctor did and did not do when they arrived at that diagnosis. This is done by looking at the differential diagnosis approach that the doctor has utilized in making determinations on treatments.

Differential diagnosis is a systemic method that doctors used to identify a condition or a disease in a patient. Based upon the patient’s preliminary evaluation, they make a list of diagnoses in order of probability. They then test the strength of each diagnosis by making further patient observations while at the same time asking detailed questions about their medical history and symptoms, referring them to specialists or ordering tests.

In a failed diagnosis case, lawyers can prove that a doctor who has the same specialty would not have misdiagnosed the illness or condition. Aside from that, they can also show that they failed to seek opinions from specialists and perform appropriate tests in order to investigate the viability of the diagnosis.

  • Proving That it Caused Harm

Medical Malpractice lawyers can also prove that the failed diagnosis eventually caused harm to the patient beyond what it normally would have if the correct diagnosis had been made in a timely manner and that its progression has a negative impact on its treatment.

In the case of cancer, they could show that, due to a delayed diagnosis, the patient had to undergo a more severe treatment program. They can also prove that the patient has been harmed even if the condition can still be treated.

The Bottom Line

In any case where negligent failure to diagnose a life-threatening or serious condition has caused serious harm, our team of independent experts and lawyers can help. They are here to provide dedicated representation and sound advice. Big-name doctors and large insurance companies cannot intimidate them and will not hesitate to take any case to recover fair compensation.

Contact us to schedule a free initial consultation with an efficient and experienced lawyer from Neufeld, Kleinberg and Pinkiert.