The Dangers of Misdiagnosis
While we should all trust that our doctors will examine our symptoms, conduct tests, and come up with the proper diagnoses, too many patients know this does not always happen. Doctors and other healthcare providers can misdiagnose patient conditions in different ways. For example, a doctor can mistake one condition for another. Two doctors may give conflicting diagnoses, and a patient may go with the wrong one. In some cases, patients are sent home believing they are just fine and then, on their next visit—or many visits later—learn they were very sick all along.
A misdiagnosis, no matter how it happens, can endanger a patient for many reasons.
More Invasive Treatments
Any delay in diagnosis means a delay in treatment for the the patient’s true medical condition. In some cases, this can only cause minor setbacks. For others, however, any delay can cause serious problems and require significantly more invasive treatments than a patient otherwise would have required.
For example, cancer is one of the most commonly misdiagnosed conditions—and some cancers can progress quickly. If doctors catch certain types of cancer in early stages, a patient may only need a round of radiation to clear it up. If the issue goes misdiagnosed for weeks or even months, however, a tumor may grow—and cancer may spread quickly. This can lead to the need for invasive surgeries and extensive chemotherapy that can cause painful and dangerous side effects.
Conditions Become Untreatable
Staying with the cancer example, some cancer may go undetected due to misdiagnosis until it is in its final stages and has metastasized. By the time doctors make the right diagnosis, no available treatments can save the patient.
In addition to death from untreatable cancer, the misdiagnosis of other conditions can also lead to the wrongful death of the patient. A doctor may mistake a heart attack for a benign condition such as acid reflux and send the patient home without any of the treatments for heart disease the patient needs to prevent further heart attacks. Left at risk, the patient may not survive a subsequent, significantly more severe heart attack. In this case, a correct diagnosis may have prevented the death.
In many cases, a misdiagnosis may constitute medical malpractice, and patients—or their surviving family members—may have legal rights to seek compensation for their losses.
Losses can be substantial in misdiagnosis cases, especially those involving serious conditions such as cancer or heart attacks, so you need the right legal team handling your case.
Contact a Waterford and New London Medical Malpractice Attorney for Help Today
If you believe you were the victim of medical malpractice, please do not hesitate to call Polito & Harrington. For a free consultation with a medical malpractice lawyer, call (860) 447-3300 or contact us online today.