A recent study by Johns Hopkins patient safety experts concluded that as many as 40,500 acutely ill patients die each year in the U.S. as a result of a failure to diagnose a serious medical condition. By reviewing studies that used autopsies to detect misdiagnosis errors in adult ICU patients, the experts in the Johns Hopkins Armstrong Institute for Patient Safety and Quality discovered that more than 1 in every 4 of the patients studied had at least one missed diagnosis at death. In 8% of patients, the diagnostic error was serious enough that it may have caused or contributed to the patient’s death and, if the condition had been discovered, it likely would have changed the patient’s course of treatment. Infections and vascular conditions, such as heart attack and stroke, accounted for more than 75% of those fatal errors.
The misdiagnosis of symptoms or the failure to diagnose a medical condition is a common form of medical malpractice. When symptoms or warning signs are present, it often is critical to the patient’s health that a doctor recognize these symptoms and make a timely diagnosis. Misdiagnosis can lead to the wrong drugs being prescribed, the wrong medical treatment, non-treatment of the actual illness, or a treatment that actually makes the patient’s condition worse. In the worst case scenario, a misdiagnosis can lead to serious injuries or illness, or even wrongful death. If any harm resulting from a medical misdiagnosis could have been prevented, the patient may have a viable medical malpractice lawsuit. Some common types of medical misdiagnosis and failures to diagnose are discussed below.
Misdiagnosis of Cancer
Early detection of any sort of medical issue is an important factor in the prognosis. This is especially true with cancer, as it typically causes more damage and becomes more difficult to treat the longer it is allowed to spread. If a cancer grows to a certain size or metastasizes, then some treatment options may become unavailable. The chance of a full recovery is much higher in cancer patients who identify the problem early on. Failure to diagnose cancer early can result in the need for painful treatments that may not have been necessary, had it been diagnosed at an earlier stage. Without treatment, breast cancer, skin cancer, ovarian cancer, cervical cancer, testicular cancer, and other forms of cancer get worse over time.
If you or someone you love has suffered due to a cancer misdiagnosis, you may be entitled to compensation for past and future medical expenses, including the cost of treatment and medication. In addition, a medical malpractice lawsuit may be filed to recover monetary damages for lost income, disability, and pain and suffering. When the failure to diagnose cancer results in death, a wrongful death claim may be filed, to provide surviving family members compensation. Our medical malpractice lawyers in Wausau, WI will thoroughly investigate your cancer misdiagnosis claim, reviewing the most current medical research and drawing upon the expertise of skilled oncologists who can testify to a doctor’s proper treatment or failure to recognize signs of cancer. We will treat your case with compassion and respect while providing you with the personalized attention necessary to achieve a favorable outcome.
When someone is having a stroke, every second counts. The longer the stroke progresses without treatment the greater the damage to the brain can be. The sooner a stroke is diagnosed, the sooner proper treatment can begin, and the better the chance of a full recovery. A stroke blocks the blood supply that carries oxygen to the brain. If the brain suffers from a lack of oxygen for an extended period of time, this can cause permanent brain and nerve damage. However, a quick stroke diagnosis and early treatment with clot-busting drugs can restore the blood flow to the brain. Stroke misdiagnosis can cause long-term or permanent injuries which may include:
- Paralysis or weakness on one side of their body
- Diminished ability to speak or understand speech
- Diminished mental capacity
- Loss or diminished motor skills
- Loss or diminished senses
If you have had a stroke or an ischemic attack and were not timely or properly treated by your doctor or hospital, you may have a cause of action against the parties or hospitals that treated you. Our medical malpractice lawyers can help maximize your recovery in a medical malpractice lawsuit. For a free assessment and evaluation of your claim contact our misdiagnosis lawyers in Wausau, Wisconsin at 715.843.6700.
Heart Attack Misdiagnosis
When heart attack symptoms are reported by a patient, medical personnel should immediately administer tests and treatments to avoid serious injuries or death. These tests include electrocardiograms, echocardiograms, coronary artery disease tests, cardiac enzyme tests, stress tests, and angiograms. Aggressive testing and treatment of heart disease can halt and even reverse the conditions that can lead to heart attack, but a physician’s negligent failure to diagnose and understand the risk factors can render useless even the most advanced diagnostic and therapeutic techniques. Common heart attack symptoms include:
- Chest pain that feels like a burning sensation
- Fainting or lightheadedness
- Arm, back or shoulder pain
- Shortness of breath
Physicians may fail to properly diagnose a heart attack in cases where there is no prior history or symptoms of cardiac problems, and the patient is young or fit enough that the risk of heart attack is not obvious. In these situations, a family history of heart disease, the effects of recent stress, or high cholesterol levels can be easy to overlook. For a free consultation about your right to damages in cases involving a failure to diagnose heart disease or the risk of heart attack, contact a Wausau medical malpractice attorney at 715.843.6700.
The medical profession has made great strides in the prevention and treatment of infections. Unfortunately, none of those advances are worth much to the patient who develops an infection that is allowed to fester because it was not diagnosed when it should have been. Whether you went to a doctor or hospital with an existing infection or became infected during a hospital stay or medical procedure, you may be entitled to compensation if a delayed diagnosis of your infection caused harm that you would not otherwise have suffered.
Common signs of infection include the following:
- Elevated temperature
- Nausea and vomiting
- Unexplained changes in vital signs
- Appearance and drainage of wounds
The simplest infection, left untreated, can result in conditions like sepsis, necrotizing fasciitis (aka flesh-eating disease), acute renal failure and spinal meningitis. Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (aka the superbug) is a particularly severe hospital-acquired infection. If you have suffered or have lost a loved one due to a failure to diagnose an infection, contact our medical malpractice lawyers in Wisconsin to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation.
Misdiagnosis Attorney in Wisconsin
If you believe that you or a member of your family has been the victim of a misdiagnosis that led to a serious injury or death, contact a medical misdiagnosis lawyer in Wisconsin at 715.843.6700. There are no fees unless we obtain a recovery. Every claim for medical malpractice has a time limit within which the lawsuit must be filed, known as the Statute of Limitations. Time may be running out on your claim, so you should have any potential claim reviewed as soon as possible to make sure your family is protected.