Caroselli, Beachler & Coleman, L.L.C.

Misdiagnosis led patient to believe he was dying

A medical misdiagnosis generally prevents individuals from receiving the treatment that they need concerning a particular illness. However, such a medical misdiagnosis can mislead patients in other ways as well. Occasionally, patients are presented with a dire diagnosis and then react to that diagnosis.

One patient was misdiagnosed with terminal lung cancer and told that he only had months to live. He then sold the house (at a loss), canceled his health insurance, went on a spending spree, took a number of expensive trips, and took up smoking and drinking coffee. The thought was that his wife would recoup the cost from her husband's life insurance policy. Now, two years later, an ultrasound demonstrated that he was cancer free.

The individual's doctor blamed the incorrect diagnosis on other medical conditions. Meanwhile, the man is badly in debt.

This is certainly a happier story than the reverse: the doctor fails to diagnose a condition for which an individual could seek treatment, and the person only discovers the extent of his or her disease when it's too late to treat it. Nevertheless, with every misdiagnosis there is likely to be unanticipated consequences.

Doctors make mistakes. Still, when a doctor presents a diagnosis of terminal cancer, one would hope that such a doctor would be sure of such a diagnosis before delivering it to a patient. It's because patients rely so deeply upon their doctor in their day-to-day life that doctors cannot afford to make mistakes like this.

Though the above misdiagnosis did not occur in a Pittsburgh hospital, such a mistake could occur here as well if precautions are not taken.

Source: Gawker, "Terminal Cancer Misdiagnosis Leads Couple to Throw Life Savings Away on Bucket List," by Neetzan Zimmerman, June 18, 2012

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Caroselli, Beachler & Coleman, L.L.C.
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Pittsburgh, PA 15222

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