Medical Malpractice: Main Medical Diseases That Are Misdiagnosed or Underdiagnosed

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Stethoscope in a Medical Book Showing a Medical Malpractice ConceptWhen you or a family member is ill and you go to the doctor, you expect him to determine what your medical condition is and give you the appropriate diagnostic tests, medications, and treatments. Unfortunately, misdiagnosed or underdiagnosed conditions are common problems that results in doctors providing the wrong treatment, delayed treatment, or no treatment at all. The consequences can be disastrous for the patient whose medical condition could worsen or even result in his death.

However, not all medical errors amount to medical malpractice. In order to prove medical malpractice, a patient must show the following:

  • A doctor-patient relationship existed.

  • The doctor did not provide treatment in a reasonably skillful manner.

  • The patient suffered injuries as a result of the malpractice.

What Is an Underdiagnosed or Misdiagnosed Condition?

Underdiagnosed conditions result when the disorder’s diagnosis is delayed or missed entirely. These errors frequently happen when a doctor fails to recognize the symptoms associated with a certain medical disorder, the patient exhibits mild or vague symptoms, or the doctor has insufficient knowledge about the condition to correctly diagnose it.

Misdiagnosis occurs when a doctor fails to recognize symptoms that are clearly associated with one illness, instead diagnosing a different condition. Often the misdiagnosis is the result of these medical errors:

  • Failing to screen for a correct medical condition

  • Failing to correctly interpret test results, to follow up when results are not received, or to properly review them

  • Failing to refer the patient to an appropriate specialist

  • Failing to properly discuss a patient’s symptoms with him

  • Failing to follow up on the causes of symptoms when treatments are not working

What Are Common Medical Conditions That Are Misdiagnosed or Underdiagnosed?

Whenever a disease is misdiagnosed or there is a delayed diagnosis, the patient continues to suffer with symptoms and his disease progresses—sometimes to a point of no return in terms of treatments. Common medical conditions that doctors misdiagnose or do not identify quickly enough include:

  • Lung cancer. These errors are often caused by a delayed diagnosis. Frequently, the patient is young and coughing is attributed to bronchitis. As a result, a chest X-ray that would have shown the cancer is not ordered, and the cancer continues to spread in the patient’s lungs and body.

  • Breast cancer. Many malpractice lawsuits are for claims of delayed diagnosis of breast cancer. The victims are frequently under 50 years old and received a false-negative result on a mammogram that should have been followed up with a diagnostic mammogram. A woman can suffer tragic results if a diagnosis is not made quickly enough and her cancer spreads.

  • Appendicitis. Appendicitis is often originally diagnosed as gastroenteritis because it has similar symptoms. Doctors commit malpractice by not following up with patients or warning them about the possibility of it being appendicitis and telling them what to do if symptoms worsen. If symptoms are left untreated, immediate surgery may be necessary.

  • Colon cancer. Because patients who have colon cancer often also have hemorrhoids, a doctor could treat the hemorrhoids and not realize the need for a colonoscopy or follow-up treatment if the symptoms persist. Like with other types of cancer, failing to catch this disease early can have deadly consequences for the patient.

  • Heart attack. A heart attack can be misdiagnosed as indigestion or anxiety. In addition, younger people and women may exhibit different symptoms than older men. Prompt medical care is essential to not cause permanent damage to the heart or a life-threatening situation.

  • Stroke. It is not uncommon for the symptoms of a stroke to be attributed to vertigo, migraine headaches, or alcohol consumption. When misdiagnosed, crucial early treatment is not administered, and the person could experience permanent changes to his reasoning, ability to walk, and his speech.

Do you suspect you were the victim of medical malpractice? You could be entitled to compensation from your doctor or other medical professional who made the medical errors. Call the experienced medical malpractice attorneys at Kennedy Hodges, LLP, toll free at 855-947-0707 to schedule a free case evaluation to learn about your legal options.


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