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

Misdiagnosis in ICU frequently occurs

Hopefully, the headlines will make it clear to Pittsburgh readers why a failure to diagnose or a misdiagnosis is the subject for so many medical malpractice lawsuits. A misdiagnosis in an internal care unit (ICU) is often fatal for patients.

More than 40,000 patients die each year in the United States because of an undiagnosed condition. In fact, the number may be understated because not every patient goes under an autopsy to determine if a particular condition was missed. Sadly, there's been little analysis as to why this is the case, or how hospitals can go about correcting the problem.

The stark conclusion of a John Hopkins report is that more patients die from a failure to diagnose a particular medical condition than die from breast cancer. "Our study shows that misdiagnosis is alarmingly common in the acute care setting," stated a physician and lead author of the John Hopkins report.

Heart attacks, pulmonary embolisms, artery blockage to the lungs, pneumonia and a syndrome called aspergillosis (infection affecting individuals with an immune disorder) are some of the most common maladies that are left undiagnosed. Even undiagnosed conditions that do not directly result in a patient's death may contribute to other health problems.

Most doctors will try to help their patients in any way they can. However, other doctors will not listen to a patient's complaint, and send a patient home with a prescription not designed to treat the real disease.

Though attorneys cannot remedy a misdiagnosis after the fact, lawsuits can put doctors on alert in the future that every effort should be made to find out what is wrong with patients.

Source: Medical Xpress, "ICU misdiagnosis may account for as many annual deaths as breast cancer: study," August 27, 2012

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

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