More Harm Than Good?

Misdiagnosis or missed diagnosis . . . either one can result in serious medical problems. In the worst cases, this form of medical malpractice can actually deprive someone of their life. Wrong diagnosis . . . Wrong treatment . . . When life goes wrong, we fight for what is right. Our experienced South Carolina medical malpractice attorneys will be your advocate when you face the consequences of a misdiagnosis. Call (803) 454-1200 or use our online contact form.

Victims of misdiagnosis and their families should know that you’re not alone.  In March of 2013, the Journal of the American Medical Association reported that almost 40 percent of patients who unexpectedly had to return to their primary care doctor after the initial visit had been misdiagnosed.

According to The American Journal of Medicine, 15 percent of all medical cases in developed countries are misdiagnosed. Millions of patients worldwide are being treated for the wrong conditions every year. A Mayo Clinic study found that 26 percent of cases were misdiagnosed while, according to The Journal of Clinical Oncology, up to a startling 44 percent of some types of cancer are misdiagnosed.

The Many Causes of Misdiagnosis

We all know that it takes many years of advanced education to become a physician. Technology has brought us diagnostic equipment and tests that would boggle the minds of our ancestors. So why can’t we get a correct diagnosis and appropriate treatment? An error in medical diagnosis may occur because of one of the following:

  • There may be multiple conditions with similar symptoms.
  • The doctor or other medical professional may be distracted or inattentive, missing important information.
  • The office or lab may be short staffed.
  • The doctor may miss something in a patient’s medical history.
  • Equipment may malfunction.
  • Lab tests sometimes have false positives or false negatives.
  • Your records could get mixed up with someone else’s.
  • Doctors seem to always be in a hurry. The average amount of time they spend with a patient is 15 minutes. In the hospital, it’s only 8 minutes, according to a study reported in the Journal of General Internal Medicine.
  • Test results may be accurate but be incorrectly interpreted.

Whatever the cause, a misdiagnosis can lead to a delay in the condition’s being properly treated, and this may lead to serious consequences and even death.

Types of Diagnostic Mistakes

Diagnostic errors usually fall into one of the following categories:

  • Wrong diagnosis, such as mistaking a heart attack for a gastrointestinal ailment.
  • Missed diagnosis, when the doctor fails to detect an illness or disease.
  • Delayed diagnosis, when a correct diagnosis is made, but after significant delay. Late diagnosis is one of the more common types of diagnosis error.
  • Failure to recognize complications, when a correct diagnosis is made but the doctor fails to identify complications or factors which change or aggravate the illness or condition.
  • Failure to diagnose a disease that occurs secondary to the primary condition.

Tragically, one of the most frequently missed and delayed diagnoses is that of cancer. Pulmonary embolism, drug reactions, acute coronary syndrome and stroke are also among the most frequent serious consequences of misdiagnosis. Emergency room misdiagnoses are likely to result in harm to the patient. For instance, appendicitis is the most common condition requiring emergency surgery in children; and yet, appendicitis is misdiagnosed in 28% to 57% of children under the age of 12 and in close to 100% of infants, according to Healthgrades, Inc.

Legal Remedies for Malpractice Injuries

The law does not hold doctors legally liable for all diagnostic errors, but in some cases a malpractice lawsuit will provide some compensation for injuries caused by medical mistakes. There are generally three threshold questions: (1) Was there a doctor-patient relationship? (2) Was the doctor negligent? (3) Did the negligence cause actual injury to the patient?

To be found negligent, a doctor or other medical professional must have deviated from the accepted standard of care. Not every instance of misdiagnosis results from incompetence or negligence. The key is to evaluate what the doctor did and did not do and determine whether another doctor in a similar specialty, under similar circumstances, would have arrived at the same diagnosis.

The seasoned professionals at the Louthian Law Firm (About Us) can advise you about whether a medical malpractice lawsuit is appropriate in your situation.

If so, you may be able to receive damages such as the following:

  • compensation for physical and mental pain and suffering, loss of enjoyment of life, and loss of consortium
  • payment of hospital bills, drugs, physical therapy and other medical expenses
  • reimbursement of lost income due to time off work.

If a doctor told you that you have a condition or illness that you do not have, you may be able to show that it caused harmful anxiety and stress, and that the misdiagnosis led to the expense of unnecessary treatment.

Louthian Law Can Help You Secure Justice

During our many decades of experience in personal injury matters, we have helped numerous clients who suffered from medical malpractice, including misdiagnosis. While every case is different and the outcome cannot be guaranteed, some of the results we have obtained in medical malpractice cases are listed below:

  • $1,700,000 settlement of a medical malpractice claim on the fourth day of trial
  • $750,000 settlement of a medical malpractice claim

If you find yourself in a situation where you may have been harmed by a medical misdiagnosis, contact the South Carolina personal injury lawyers at the Louthian Law Firm today so that we can start the journey to justice right away. Once you do, we’ll be on the case, around the clock. There’s no reason not to call, as the initial consultation is free. (803) 454-1200 – Call now.