Many have heard or read about horror stories from the hospital: tales of botched surgeries, infections, and medical instruments left inside patients. But surprisingly, the greatest number of medical malpractice cases comes from not what a doctor does, but what he does not do. The biggest problem in medical malpractice is the failure to properly diagnose a disease or outright misdiagnosing a condition. Failure to do so has led to rapid progression of the disease and, in some cases, death.
Recent studies have shown that the problem, which is not isolated to the United States, varies by country but ranges from 26 percent to as much as 63 percent of all malpractice claims. The study goes on to point out that cancer was the most missed disease with breast, skin, melanoma and lung cancers leading that category. Adults were also often misdiagnosed when it comes to heart disease. In children, the largest misdiagnosis was with meningitis. Sadly, most of these misdiagnoses eventually led to patient fatalities.
What makes these misdiagnoses particularly problematic is that many of the diseases are treatable if they are detected early. Cancer, particularly, can be treated if the doctor properly diagnoses the condition at the earliest possible stage. For instance, the National Breast Cancer Foundation has stated,
“In Stage 1 breast cancer, cancer is evident, but it is contained to only the area where the first abnormal cells began to develop. The breast cancer has been detected in the early stages and can be very effectively treated.”
In fact, the data shows that this early detection and proper diagnosis has a survival rate of 98% (http://www.nationalbreastcancer.org/breast-cancer-stage-0-and-stage-1). By contrast, Stage 4 breast cancer, where the cancer has spread to other systems such as the liver and the brain, only has a 22% survival rate (http://www.cancer.org/cancer/breastcancer/detailedguide/breast-cancer-survival-by-stage).
When it comes to heart disease, women are the most often patients to be misdiagnosed. Many women suffering from heart disease have unusual or “atypical” symptoms that should alert doctors to the possibility of a heart problem. However, some of these symptoms, such as gastrointestinal problems, are often dismissed. When they are treated, the symptoms are simply alleviated without diagnosing the underlying causes of the problems.
Most doctors do their best to properly diagnose their patients and treat them accordingly. However, some diagnoses are missed every year and the problem only seems to be recently coming to light. If you feel that your doctor has misdiagnosed your medical condition, leading to suffering or further injury, then you should contact the law offices of Wolf & Pravato and learn about your rights regarding medical malpractice.