Missed Diagnosis—A Common Medical Mistake

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.

For example, the check list approach, if consistently followed, would drastically limit the amount of hospital acquired infections that attack thousands of patients each year. Correcting that one issue alone would save lives and spare untold numbers of families the trauma associated with medical complications.

All proposals that seek to limit the pain and suffering caused by medical errors should be closely examined. Our Chicago medical malpractice attorneys at Levin & Perconti continue to work with the victims of these mistakes firsthand. Without question all those who have suffered would give anything to only have been given proper care in the first place. It is imperative that steps be made to limit the number of future victims.

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