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

Failure to diagnose can cause death, medical issues

In the medical world, patient advocates reported that wrong or missed diagnosis happened about 10 to 20 percent of the time. The problem is much greater than drug errors or wrong surgeries although those medical mistakes have made headlines more often. The impact of the mistakes can be extremely serious and lead to permanent disability or even death according to a 2009 report. Another study indicated that failure to diagnose could equal more than 40,000 deaths annually or about the same number as those who die from breast cancer. Some of the misdiagnoses include common illnesses.

In one recent case, a medical professional suffered because doctors and surgeons told him he had acid reflux for months. Later tests showed that he had cancer, and he had to have his voice box removed because of the delay in detecting the tumor. Although he is happy to be alive and recently spoke of his traumatic experience at a medical conference, he was very surprised that the misdiagnosis happened to him.

One of the conference organizers, a professor with John Hopkins School of Medicine, admitted that the problem of misdiagnosis happened frequently. Further studies show that primary-care doctors often make medical mistakes. Another study dating back to 1991 showed that misdiagnosis and negligence was problematic even then.

However, respected medical professionals have recently asked for more attention to the issue. They recognize a number of factors that have contributed to the problem such as time crunches and a lack of communication between professionals.

Misdiagnosis, failure to diagnose and doctor negligence can represent possible death or life-threatening consequences for the affected patients. A medical malpractice attorney might be able to help a client who has suffered through this type of experience file a civil lawsuit and seek compensation.

Source: Chicago Daily Herald, "Misdiagnosis can have huge impact on patients", Sandra G. Boodman, May 13, 2013

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