What might have been: when doctors fail to diagnose a serious medical condition

Two recent stories in the news underscore the dangers that medical mistakes pose to patients.  When doctors misdiagnose or fail to diagnose a medical condition, patients can be seriously hurt, disabled or killed.


In the first news story, a Florida family was awarded $4.3 million to the family of a newborn girl whose doctors misdiagnosed an enterovirus virus that was attacking her body.  By the time her doctors figured out what was going on, the little girl was left with a blood clot in her brain, severe vision problems and permanent cirrhosis of her liver.


In another case, a New York man with a misdiagnosed staph infection was awarded $5.45 million by a jury.  The man visited a New York emergency room and was sent home after being told that he just had the flu.  A few days later the man returned to the ER and ended up with heart surgery to replace one of his heart valves after he was damaged by an undiagnosed staph infection.


These two cases show that medical mistakes can happen at any time and at any point in a person’s life.  In both cases, if doctors had promptly diagnosed their patient’s condition, unnecessarily surgery, medical treatment and long-term suffering and disability would have been avoided.


Sadly, cases like this happen every day all across the country.  Other examples of medical misdiagnosis include:

  • A patient goes to the ER with pain and shortness of breath.  The ER doctor does not accurately diagnose the man’s heart condition, instead telling him that he is suffering from anxiety and sends him home.  The man suffers another attack at home that kills him.
  • A woman goes to her doctor because she has symptoms that concern her. Her doctor performs a brief exam and reassures her that she’s just worrying too much and tells her to go home and relax.  Several months later she presents with symptoms of advanced stage breast cancer and her prognosis is grim.  Had the cancer been caught earlier, she might have survived longer.


The above are two examples of common medical failures to diagnose.  Some studies have shown that about one in 50 heart attack victims are sent home by ER doctors who think nothing is wrong.


Failing to diagnose cancer is another major medical mistake.  Cervical cancer, colon cancer, breast cancer, prostate cancer and esophageal cancer are the most common forms of cancer that are misdiagnosed.


Do you suspect that you or someone you love has been the victim of a medical misdiagnosis or failed diagnosis?  You may be able to secure justice and compensation in your medical malpractice case.  Please contact the experienced medical mistake attorneys at Tavss Fletcher today.



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