After decades of work on behalf of local victims, our Illinois medical malpractice attorneys have become familiar with the types of cases that arise more frequently than others. One of the most common (and deadly) type of error involves diagnostic problems. Correctly diagnosing a problem is obviously a vital task incumbent upon all medical professionals. It is often the first task charged to all medical professionals when a patient visits their office for assistance. In most cases a community member will experience some sort of symptoms that they know pose potential problems. They visit a doctor and explain those symptoms assuming that the professionals will properly interpret the signs and conduct testing to figure out the ailment.
No medical problem can be treated if it is not first identified, and so proper diagnosis is a cornerstone of proper care. Our Chicago medical malpractice attorneys understand that there are some cases in which a diagnosis cannot be made in a timely fashion through no fault of the physician or medical staff members. Human understanding of certain medical problems remains imperfect, and no doctor can be expected to go beyond reasonable expectations when trying to figure out a patient’s ailment. However, at the same time, all patients have a right to expect their medical professional will act according to current prudent medical procedure when working to heal them. That includes connecting to symptoms to specific medical problems and conducting proper testing to further understand what may be at the root of the problem.
When a doctor fails to identify a medical problem that a reasonable physician would, he may be guilty of medical malpractice for the failure to diagnose. Misdiagnoses are some of the most devastating forms of malpractice, because quick treatment of medical problems often means the difference between life and death. Mere minutes of delay in receiving lifesaving care are often all that it takes to make something fatal. All those harmed by these delayed or missed diagnoses can use the legal system to hold their wrongdoer accountable for the problems that result.
Today the Reading Eagle discussed one of those failure to diagnose cases. A $5.2 million verdict was recently upheld following a trial stemming from a man’s heart attack death. The widow of the 37-year old man filed the suit after her husband-a pharmacist-died while working from heart problems. The victim visited his physician only 4 days before his death complaining of chest pain, jaw pain, and anxiety. The victim was overweight at the time, had high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and had a family history of heart disease.
With those symptoms and that history, it would have been reasonable for the physician to recognize the possibility that the man had suffered a heart attack. In those circumstances a prudent physician would have known that it was necessary to immediately send the man to the hospital. He did not do so. Obviously the victim reasonably assumed that he was in no immediate health risk per the conduct of his doctor, and so he went home. Four days later the victim called the doctor again because he suffered from the same problem. By the time the doctor returned the call in the morning the man was in cardiac arrest at his work. He died a short time later. An autopsy conducted after his death revealed that he had suffered heart damage, indicating that he has suffered a heart attack four days beforehand-just when he had visited the doctor the first time.
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