Articles Posted in Failure to Diagnose

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It was a heartbreaking case that likely sends shivers down the spines of all mothers and fathers in Chicagoland. The parents of a young woman stood proud as they watched their 26-year old daughter walk across the stage as a medical school graduate. After decades of study, they watched their little girl grow up to be a doctor.

Little did they know that tragedy was just around the corner.

Less than two weeks after her graduation, the young woman began experiencing significant headaches. Eventually, she went to a medical center, explaining that she had suffered days of headaches that went unabated in addition to developing unexplained bruises. The young doctor was admitted to the facility as doctors began tried to figure out what was ailing her.

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Recently, an Illinois medical malpractice lawsuit was filed in Madison County after an eye doctor failed to diagnose his patient’s eye condition. According to the Madison Record, the patient claims that the doctor failed to even specify what eye condition the man suffered from, nevertheless monitor or treat the condition. The man continued to remain a patient of the eye doctor for over two years until his problem became debilitating.

In the claim, filed June 9, the plaintiff asserts that as a result of the doctor’s ophthalmological error, he sustained much pain and suffering due to the undiagnosed eye condition. Subsequently, the plaintiff suffered a permanent disability to his eye which ultimately caused his inability to work and lost wages. The plaintiff seeks an undisclosed judgment in this two count lawsuit.

In order to deliver the most relevant medical malpractice news to our readers, we are continuously reading reports about new cases. We have observed that the number of malpractice cases against ophthalmologists and optometrists is on the up-rise. Although this report does not specify the specific condition the plaintiff’s suffered, we read a lot about cases involving complications during Lasik eye surgery. This voluntary, permanent corrective eye surgery has unfortunately caused various complications, especially if performed by a negligent doctor. In a lawsuit filed earlier this year, a self-proclaimed “World’s Best Eye Surgeon” was sued for medical malpractice when he improperly performed Lasik surgery four times on a single patient whose vision did not improved after the previous surgeries. Ultimately, the patient was rendered legally blind.

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The San Francisco Chronicle posted a story yesterday on the all too common errors that hospitals make when attempting to diagnose deadly medical problems. It was explained how sometimes a patient does not receive a misdiagnosis-told the wrong thing-but instead a missed diagnosis-told nothing at all.

The story’s author explained that her own brother –in-law suffered from just such an error. He was a healthy young man who started having blackouts. He was not sure what caused the symptoms, but he went to a doctor to get it checked out. Without ordering a single test or inquiring further, the doctor told him that he was fine, with no medical issues. But the next day the young man suffered a massive heart attack and died. He was the victim of a missed diagnosis.

To help curb these and similar problems the author suggests that the American Medical Association have a medical corrections specialist available to work with those that commit errors, ensuring that it never happens again. In addition, many physicians could do a better job of following through with checklist procedures to ensure that basic oversights do not have deadly affects on unsuspecting patients.

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This week United Press International discussed a troubling report from some state health officials indicating that more than half a dozen young babies died in that state in the last year alone because of one particular type of medical mistake.

In a letter sent to doctors, clinics, and hospitals, a state Department of Health official indicated that eight young children under the age of six months had died the previous year because of medical professionals who failed to diagnose them with whooping cough in time for proper lifesaving treatment.

The health official explained, “In several cases, the infants were treated only for nasal congestion or mild upper respiratory infection. By the time these infants develop severe respiratory distress, it was usually too late for any intervention to prevent their tragic deaths.”

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A medical malpractice lawsuit was filed recently after a terrible medical mistake led to the sudden death of a young 20 year old woman.

As reported in the Mankato Free Press, Elizabeth Moen was 19 years old when she made her first trip to a local clinic in late January 2008. Elizabeth was admitted to the hospital following the visit after reporting severe headaches, vomiting, diarrhea, and stiffness in her neck. These are all common symptoms of subarachnoid hemorrhage. According to Medline Plus, these hemorrhages involve bleeding between the brain and the tissues surrounding it.

However, regardless of the symptoms, the doctor at the clinic failed to test for the hemorrhage and instead diagnosed Elizabeth with migraine headaches. After leaving the hospital, Elizabeth went to visit the doctor again after continuing to suffer from the same problems. The doctor’s solution was more pain medication. At no point did the health care professional order follow up visits or warn Elizabeth that anything other than migraines could have been involved in her health issue.

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A highly sophisticated bacteria strain known as MRSA has long been one of the leading causes of infections in hospitals. MRSA is a form of staph infection, but it is much more dangerous to patients than the typical staph infection because MRSA cannot be treated with first-line antibiotics. In 2005, there were over 368,000 hospitalizations because of the infection, and 68% of all staph infections are now of the MRSA variety.

Science journalist Maryn McKenna recently explained in an NPR interview that hospitals have long been a breeding grounds for the infection. Bacteria prefer living in weak immune systems. Sick or weak residents at hospitals -like the elderly, HIV infected, chemotherapy patients- all have weak immune systems. Those same patients also likely have many skin cuts for IVs. The combination of weak body defenses and many entry points make hospitals the ideal breeding ground for staph infections.

McKenna also notes that it is sometimes difficult for hospitals to eliminate the bacteria in its patients. She notes that many health care workers often fail to take simple steps, like washing hands, which have a serious effect on the bacteria. She points to a recent survey that indicated nearly 50% of “hand washing opportunities” are missed by healthcare workers..

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A new study in Business Week reports than over half of pediatricians admit to making false diagnosis, missing diagnosis, or delaying diagnosis once or twice in the past month alone. Pediatric trainees are even more susceptible to error, with over 77 percent of them making diagnostic mistakes in the last thirty days.

Even more startling is that over half of those doctors admitted that their missed diagnosis or incorrect diagnosis resulted in direct harm to the patient. Because of that it should not be surprising that virtually one out of every three medical malpractice lawsuits stems from a doctor’s inaccurate or failed diagnosis.

These diagnostic errors have various causes, but the report indicated that the most common include a doctor’s failure to properly gather a patient’s medical or exam history, errors on medical charts, and failure to follow up on abnormal test results.

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The widow of a 40 year old man is suing a doctor who failed to diagnose her husband’s previous allergic reaction to bee stings, according to New Jersey News. In July of 2005 the man was rushed to the emergency room by a neighbor after collapsing and foaming at the mouth while mowing his grass. The neighbor noticed a swarm of bees near the man. He told emergency room staff about the bees and the likelihood that they caused the man’s allergic reaction. The doctor failed to look into the neighbor’s warning, however, and ruled the injury to be heatstroke. Only a month later in August of 2005, the same man had another severe allergic reaction while mowing his grass. He died before making it to the hospital, with doctors finding over 30 stings on his body.

The medical malpractice lawsuit filed by the victim’s widow seeks over $1.5 million dollars for future earnings, pain and suffering, and other losses suffered due to the medical error.

Of course, if the doctor who provided initial treatment in July had properly informed the family of the cause of the reaction, they may have been able to prevent the tragedy of the second allergic attack. This is a classic example of “missed diagnosis” or “failure to diagnose.” Medical professionals have an obligation to the patients and their families to provide accurate information so that proper preventative treatment and risk-reduction steps can be taken.

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The husband of a medical malpractice victim has filed a lawsuit against St. Elizabeth’s Hospital in Belleville, Illinois. The lawsuit claims that the victim was initially admitted to the hospital with a soft tissue infection in the fatty tissues of the upper leg. She informed hospital personnel that this occurred after she had pinched her left buttock in a toilet seat. The area had grown red, tender and swollen after this incident. The hospital then drained the pressure sore and stated that it was a successful surgery because there was no longer an infection.

However, three days later the victim was complaining of extreme fatigue and a week feeling. Blood cultures showed that there was a high level of E coli in the victim’s body and she had degeneration around the surrounding tissue. The doctors released her and the remaining tissues appeared healthy. She was ordered to use a wound-vac in her infected area and to simply wash and clean the wound. After the hospital she went to a nursing home. A month later her wound had to still not heeled and she was still complaining of pain and discomfort. New blood cultures showed that she had MRSA. The MRSA infection was traced back to the pressure wound. She died a few months later from complications related to the MRSA infection. To read more about this medical malpractice lawsuit, please click the link.

Pressure ulcers and infections are a common form of death. It is important to know the signs and symptoms in order to properly diagnose them. One is that the blood from the body core is warmer than skin temperature. Also, you may be able to detect a small odor caused by the bacilli. To read more signs and symptoms of pressure ulcers, check out the link.

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A common form of medical malpractice occurs when a provider carelessly or negligently fails to identify medical conditions or properly treat a patient in his or her care. While a health care provider’s liability under medical malpractice law does vary from state to state; all states recognize “failure to diagnose” as an actionable offense under certain circumstances.

According to 24-7 press release, the term failure to diagnose does encompass a wide variety of medical negligent practices. These include misdiagnosis, failure to provide appropriate treatment, unreasonable delay in treating and explicit failure to diagnose a medical injury. It is important for providers to diagnose cancer as early as possible, for a delay in treatment may greatly affect the patient’s prognosis. When cancer goes untreated it requires more aggressive and invasive forms of treatment. When this happens, health care providers may become liable for these medical expenses.

One recent medical error study shows that twelve percent of cancer cases are misdiagnosed as a result of reader error and poor sampling techniques. Certain cancers are more likely to be misdiagnosed than the others. Lung cancer is oftentimes diagnosed as bronchitis or tuberculosis. Colon cancer can be diagnosed as irritable bowel syndrome. This type of cancer is easily diagnosed with a routine colonoscopy. Cervical cancers can easily be detected by yearly pap smears. However, if a physician misinterprets the results of the exam the cancer can go into advance stages causing infertility. If you have had misdiagnosed cancer, please consult a Chicago medical malpractice attorney. To learn more about cancer misdiagnosis, please click the link.