Last year, a 12-year-old boy went to an emergency room in New York, but was subsequently sent home. The boy continued to grow sicker and sicker until, to the shock of his family and the doctors, he lost his life. It turns out that the doctors who treated the boy missed the systemic infection that killed him. This is a prime example of medical misdiagnosis and it happens quite frequently.
The journal, BMJ Quality & Safety, revealed that fatal medical misdiagnoses occur just as frequently as deaths caused by breast cancer (40,500 deaths to be exact). Medical misdiagnosis events far exceed drug errors and surgeries that are conducted on the wrong patient or body part.
You may be thinking – “mistakes happen, especially for tough-to-discover diseases like cancer.” Well, a recent study found that many of these misdiagnoses involved common diseases like pneumonia and urinary tract infections. Even more shocking is that 87 percent of the missed diagnoses had the potential for “considerable to severe harm” including “inevitable death,” according to the Washington Post.
Our medical malpractice injury law firm has handled misdiagnosis cases and we understand just how difficult and tragic they can be. For example, we represented a client who was misdiagnosed by emergency room physician. Our client reported to the emergency room complaining of headaches for eight days, nausea, vomiting, neck pain and sensitivity to bright lights. The emergency room doctor evaluated him, obtained a sample of his spinal fluid and decided that he was suffering from viral meningitis. He released our client with a prescription for pain medication. Over the next two days our client’s condition drastically worsened. He returned to the emergency department and was admitted to the hospital. He was ultimately diagnosed with fungal (cryptococcal) meningitis, a very serious and fatal disease. This disease resulted in severe neurological injuries to our client who is now permanently disabled. We understood the severity of this misdiagnosis and worked tirelessly to get our client the compensation he needed. Fortunately, we were able to settle this medical malpractice case in mediation for $650,000.00.
If you or your loved one was the victim of a medical misdiagnosis, take a look at this article which provides more in-depth information about this serious problem.