Misdiagnosis, Delayed Diagnosis or Failure to Diagnose Illness
Patients rightfully depend on their healthcare providers to diagnose any illnesses correctly and promptly so their treatment can begin. A missed, incorrect, or delayed diagnosis can have dangerous and even deadly health effects.
What Does Misdiagnosis Mean? Distinguishing Misdiagnosis, Incorrect Diagnosis, and Failure to Diagnose Malpractice
There are important differences between the kinds of mistakes a doctor can make in identifying what’s wrong with a patient. Misdiagnosis refers to confusing one medical condition with another. It can lead a patient to be treated for the wrong illness as the actual illness progresses. Delayed diagnosis involves identifying the correct form of an illness too late to start treatment that would have achieved better results if applied sooner. Failure to diagnose an injury or illness altogether, of course, implies that the doctor missed symptoms or test results, often with disastrous consequences for the patient.
The attorneys at Gay & Chacker have obtained millions of dollars for victims of diagnosis errors and the families of those who died as a result of these errors. We welcome you to contact our firm for a free legal consultation if you believe an error in diagnosis harmed you. We’ll discuss your situation and whether filing a medical malpractice claim is appropriate to seek money for the damages you’ve suffered.
Common Diagnosis-Related Medical Errors
Research published in BMJ found that each year, 12 million adults are affected by medical diagnostic errors in the United States. Half of those errors are potentially harmful, according to the study, and 40,000 to 80,000 lead to patient death.
What types of health problems are commonly misdiagnosed? Research from Johns Hopkins University published in the journal Diagnosis identified the three disease categories that are most frequently linked to serious and life-threatening diagnostic errors: infection, vascular events, and cancer. These problems account for about 75 percent of diagnosis error-related harm. In addition, AARP identified several other illnesses that are also commonly misdiagnosed:
- Parkinson’s disease
- Lyme disease
- Multiple sclerosis (MS)
- Celiac disease
- Chronic fatigue syndrome
No matter the disease or illness, healthcare providers must do their due diligence to make the correct and timely diagnosis, so their patients can receive treatment as soon as possible.
Reasons for Diagnosis Errors
There are a variety of reasons that a misdiagnosis or other diagnosis error can happen, but none of them are excusable. Some of these reasons include:
- An error in reviewing test results or communicating among healthcare professionals
- Failure to order the right diagnostic tests
- Inadequate training or education of physicians, nurses, or medical staff regarding certain illnesses and diseases
Any of the above careless or negligent behavior can delay necessary treatment for a patient. The result can be catastrophic. The longer a person does not receive the medical care and/or medication they need, the longer they can suffer from more pain and health problems.
Patients and their families can file a medical malpractice claim when a healthcare provider makes a diagnosis error that causes harm. Doing so can hold that professional (and possibly the medical system) accountable and seek compensation for the resulting medical bills, lost wages, pain, and suffering, and other losses resulting from the error.
Below are a few of Gay & Chacker’s past cases involving a diagnosis error leading to patient injury or death.
$2.4 Million Verdict in Delayed Diagnosis Case
A physician failed to properly communicate and follow up with our client regarding an “incidental finding” on an MRI. Four years later, he was diagnosed with stage IV kidney cancer that had spread to other parts of his body. The jury awarded our client $500,000 for past pain and suffering, $1.5 million for future pain and suffering, $375.000 for lost income, and more than $31,000 for his medical expenses.
$1.3 Million Settlement for Misdiagnosed Kidney
Our client, a 52-year-old-man who was a stay-at-home dad, had a kidney scan. In the process, the doctors misread the scan, which revealed a cancerous tumor. As a result of the misdiagnosis, cancer metastasized and the plaintiff underwent experimental and painful infusions of drug treatment.
$975,000 Settlement for Failure to Diagnose Cancer
We obtained a settlement for the estate of a man who, while incarcerated, received a misdiagnosis and died from testicular cancer.
$11.9 Million for Family of Man Who Committed Suicide
Mental health diagnosis errors can be extremely serious as well. Gay & Chacker obtained $11.9 million for the family of a man who committed suicide as an inmate a correctional facility. Medical staff had failed to evaluate his need for antidepressants and the risk of suicide. The award included $8 million in punitive damages.
While each of these cases involves a different medical issue, one fact remains true throughout. A diagnosis error led each of our clients to suffer physically and emotionally from the delayed treatment.
Pennsylvania Misdiagnosis Lawyers
Contact an attorney at Gay & Chacker in Philadelphia to investigate whether a misdiagnosis or another error in diagnosis in your situation can support a claim for medical malpractice damages. Our trial lawyers represent people with claims against physicians and hospitals in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and in nearby states.
The key to success in medical malpractice litigation is our ability to work effectively with the doctors whose support you’ll need to move your case forward. Expert medical opinion is essential to the two main problems of proof that are raised in misdiagnosis cases: did your doctor’s failure to make a correct diagnosis violate professional standards? And did it actually cause death or serious injury?
Our law firm’s ability to evaluate medical evidence with the help of conscientious physicians can make the decisive difference in your case, whether it involved a delayed diagnosis of cancer or a complete failure to spot the signs of stroke or heart attack in an emergency room.
Contact Gay & Chacker to learn more about how we can help you. There is no risk or obligation. We charge you no legal fees unless we recover money for your damages. Call us today at (215) 567-7955 for a free consultation with a medical malpractice attorney, and start seeking maximum recovery.