Articles Posted in Failure to Diagnose

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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.

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The family of a medical malpractice victim who died at a hospital has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the doctors. The family states that the victim underwent surgery to remove a noncancerous mass and later died from peritonitis that was improperly diagnosed after the surgery. Peritonitis is caused by a spread of an infection from the blood and lymph nodes to the peritoneum. It is a very serious disease that becomes life threatening if not quickly treated. The Puget Business Journal has reported that the victim was complaining of thirst and pain for three days after the surgery. He later died what they referred to as an “agonizing” death. Their attorney stated that all patients undergoing invasive abdominal surgery are at risk for infection. The medical malpractice lawsuit claims that the doctor’s failure “to diagnose and treat the basic signs of a horrendous onset of peritonitis is astonishing.”

One of the legal issues in this case is whether or not the hospital can be held responsible for the doctor’s actions. Hospital officials claim that although the doctors have the credentials to practice at the hospital, they are not actual employees. This oftentimes occurs at hospitals that treat doctors as independent contractors.

This victim is one of the 98,000 people that die annually as a result of medical error. Doctors must properly diagnose post surgery infections in order to avoid wrongful deaths. It is important to closely monitor patients after any surgical procedure. To read more about the medical malpractice lawsuit, please click the link.

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The New York Times has reported that an Arena Football League player filed a medical malpractice lawsuit claiming that a team doctor has misdiagnosed his concussion two years ago. This medical error has resulted in a permanent injury for the football player. This is the first medical malpractice lawsuit filed that speaks to the malpractice associated with concussion care in football. The player was a kicker for the A.F.L. in 2008 when he sustained a series of hits to the head over several games. The medical malpractice lawsuit claims that the team physician treated him only for a headache and “failed to properly evaluate and observe” his condition before clearing him to play.

This lawsuit is not the first in a series of brain injury lawsuits filed by football players. In November of last year, La Salle University settled a lawsuit in the amount of $7.5 million filed by a player severely injured by a concussion that he claimed had been mistreated by university medical staff. Also in 2000, Chicago Bear player Merril Hoge received a $1.55 million jury verdict in a brain injury case against the team’s physician Dr. John Munsell. Once again, it was alleged that the team’s physician medical error led to a more serious brain injury. Brain injuries in sports have been a closely watched topic. Professional sports doctors must be extremely cautious when clearing players to participate in any type of physical activity. To read more about the current medical malpractice lawsuit, please click the link.

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A gynecologist failed to discover a growing mass on a woman’s breast. The mass was then detected a year later by her family physician and was determined to be terminal cancer. The 34-year-old woman has filed a medical malpractice lawsuit against her gynecologist claiming that the doctor failed to discover the cancer during her exam. The woman had filled out a form that clearly stated she had a pain in her breast. The medical malpractice lawsuit claims that the family doctor had felt something in the victim’s breast during a breast exam and encouraged her to seek a mammogram. It was then discovered that she had a cancerous tumor growing in her breast. The cancer spread to a bone in her back and it was determined that the cancer was incurable. To learn more about the medical malpractice lawsuit, please click the link.