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Misdiagnosis one of the most common medical errors

| Sep 9, 2014 | Personal Injury

When Chicago residents are asked to think of medical errors their first though is usually of a surgical sponge left inside a patient, or the wrong body part being removed during surgery. However, misdiagnosis is actually one of the most prevalent forms of medical error seen in the profession. While it may not be as shocking as the other instances of medical malpractice, misdiagnosis can have serious, long-term effects for patients and their loved ones.

Often dangerous and heartbreaking

The devastating effects of misdiagnosis are clear to many families across the country and the world. According to ABC Action News, a six-year-old Fresno, California girl was rushed to the hospital after throwing up copious amount of blood. After seeing multiple doctors and receiving multiple diagnoses including mumps, gastritis and a tumor, the girl’s persistent mother took her to a doctor who discovered that she was suffering from an aneurysm in her mouth that had grown to the size of a racquetball. It was a complication of a tonsillectomy that occurred 6 months prior to the discovery. Three months after symptoms first appeared, the child received the surgery needed to rebuild the damaged artery. If a previous doctor had removed what he believed to be a tumor, the child’s current doctor believes she would have bled to death on the operating table.

In another instance of misdiagnosis, Good Morning Britain reports that a British mother of two young children prepared for her own imminent death when doctors told her she had terminal cancer. She planned her own funeral and wrote goodbye notes to her 10- and four-year-old boys, doing what she could to prepare her children for her passing. Two years of waiting led her to her doctor’s office, where they told her she had been misdiagnosed and her cancer was actually a benign tumor.

Misdiagnosis occurs at alarming rates

The National Center for Policy Analysis reports that between 10 and 20 percent of all cases are misdiagnosed by physicians each year.  In looking at relevant studies the NCPA found that 28 percent of diagnostic mistakes were severe enough to be considered life threatening or resulted in permanent disability or death. One study indicated that 40,500 fatal diagnostic errors occur in intensive care units across the country each year, making it on par with breast cancer fatalities. However, the true number of incidences is unknown due to low reporting rates.

Even though misdiagnosis is so common, most of these cases do not result in a lawsuit. Due to complicated tort law, misdiagnosis cases are often very difficult for patients to successfully handle on their own. Those who have experienced a misdiagnosis can contact a Chicago medical malpractice attorney to discuss the merits of their case and create a plan to get the compensation they need to heal and move on with their lives.