Misdiagnosis in PA can lead to serious injury, disability and death

When Pennsylvania patients schedule an appointment with their physician, they expect to discuss their symptoms and receive a diagnosis, as well as possible treatment options. While some doctors make life-saving diagnoses on a regular basis, a study published in BMJ Quality & Safety found that approximately 12 million people, or 1 out of every 20 adult patients, are misdiagnosed in America each year. The study also found that more than 40,500 fatal diagnostic errors occur in intensive care units nationwide. Surprisingly, about half of these medical mistakes can lead to serious injury, or even death of the patient. Misdiagnosis of serious medical conditions has become a common topic of interest for researchers, and studies show that this issue is far more serious than previously thought.

Another study performed in 2009 discovered that out of 583 misdiagnosed cases that were anonymously reported by physicians, 28 percent ended in patient death, permanent disability or life-threatening injuries, as reported by the Washington Post.

Due to a quick misdiagnosis by an emergency room nurse, a baby lost both of her legs, entire left hand and all of the fingers on her right hand. According to a CNN News report, the baby was suffering from a flesh eating bacteria, yet was made to wait over five hours in the emergency waiting room. The nurse evaluating the baby's initial condition thought the baby had a virus that did not require immediate attention. Unfortunately, cases such as these are more common than one might think.

Reasons for misdiagnosis

Doctors are human, and humans make mistakes. However, when people place their lives in the hands of medical experts, they expect to receive the best care possible. If physicians are not 100 percent sure of a patient's diagnosis, they should send the patient to another specialist or ask for a second opinion. According to CBS News and an article published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, the following are the most common causes of medical misdiagnosis:

  • The patient fails to provide the physician with his or her complete medical history.
  • The physician fails to fully evaluate the patient's medical history before diagnosing a condition.
  • The physician does not order the appropriate diagnostic tests that would otherwise help them determine the correct condition.
  • The physician makes a mistake when interpreting the results of a diagnostic test.

Many doctors are rushed when evaluating patients and do not take the time that is necessary to perform a thorough exam. Also, physician fatigue and carelessness can result in medical errors, including failure to diagnose a patient's condition.

Patients who receive a misdiagnosis may be given the wrong medication or receive a needless surgical procedure, all while their actual condition is getting worse.

When to call an attorney

People who have been misdiagnosed by a physician may suffer from permanent injuries, the inability to work and a decreased quality of life due to medical negligence. An attorney can aggressively represent your case in court and ensure that you receive the compensation you need and deserve for your injuries and emotional trauma.