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Improper Diagnosis

All medical care begins with a diagnosis of the patient’s problem. If the diagnosis is incorrect, the patient may receive treatment that is wrong for their condition or they may receive no treatment at all. The implications of a misdiagnosis or a delayed diagnosis may be as serious as life or death.

A recent study found that 12 million adults in the United States are misdiagnosed in an outpatient setting every year. About half of these errors could potentially be harmful, researchers said. A prior study said as many as 40,500 critically ill hospitalized patients in the U.S. may die annually because clinicians fail to diagnose life-threatening conditions, such as heart attack and stroke.

In yet another study, researchers found that most patients are discharged from emergency rooms without a diagnosis that explains the likely cause of their symptoms.

If you believe your medical condition or a loved one’s was made worse by an improper or delayed diagnosis, the medical malpractice lawyers at Kraft & Associates, P.C., would like to talk with you. We help people like you from Dallas and throughout North Texas obtain compensation for the harm done by preventable medical errors, including improper diagnoses.

We’re an established and professional law firm with friendly lawyers and staff who are easy to talk to. Please call us at (214) 999-9999 or contact us online now for a free claim review and advice about your legal rights.

Why Illnesses Are Improperly Diagnosed

When a patient has had medical treatment delayed because of a diagnosis error, it is usually because of a preventable mistake. There are multiple tests and diagnostic tools available to doctors, physician’s assistants, nurses and other medical personnel to diagnose medical conditions based on the symptoms a patient presents.

A missed or delayed diagnosis may result from negligence such as:

  • Failing to listen to the patient’s description of symptoms.
  • Failing to get the patient’s full medical and medication history.
  • Failing to obtain tests that are indicated by the patient’s symptoms.
  • Mishandling laboratory specimens, such as blood and urine samples or tissue biopsies.
  • Mixing up or losing patients’ lab or test results.
  • Misinterpreting X-rays, MRIs, CT scans, laboratory or test results, or other diagnostic reports.
  • Miscommunication among medical care providers.

Sometime it’s a simple act of carelessness, but in other cases it is a series of breakdowns within the medical facility’s system. A hospital, lab, clinic or other medical practice may have faulty protocols for ordering, performing and communicating results of diagnostic tests, which lead to lapses and improper diagnoses.

According to a CBS News report that considered several studies of missed, delayed and improper diagnoses, “Studies repeatedly have found that diagnostic errors, which are more common in primary-care settings, typically result from flawed ways of thinking, sometimes coupled with negligence, and not because a disease is rare or exotic.”

Ten commonly misdiagnosed diseases include:

  1. Cancer. The Journal of Clinical Oncology says cancer misdiagnoses occur as much as 28 percent of the time, and up to 44 percent for some types of cancer.
  2. Heart attack. Heart attack symptoms vary and can mimic symptoms of problems as benign as indigestion. Women who have heart attacks often don’t experience chest pain.
  3. Stroke. Young adults in particular are misdiagnosed as having vertigo or migraine, or being intoxicated when they present with stroke symptoms, such as confusion, severe headache, numbness of the face, and trouble speaking or walking, the American Heart Association says. But strokes can happen at any age.
  4. Pulmonary embolism (PE). This blockage of the pulmonary artery, the main artery in the lung, causes symptoms like sharp chest pain, shortness of breath, fainting and anxiety. PE, which can quickly be fatal, may be misdiagnosed as heart attack or pneumonia.
  5. Appendicitis. Typical symptoms of appendicitis include nausea, pain and tenderness around the navel, and possibly a low-grade fever. But the location of pain may differ and, if the appendix bursts, pain may subside.
  6. Celiac disease. Celiac disease, an immune disorder that causes inflammation in the small intestine, is most often misdiagnosed as irritable bowel syndrome. Symptoms for celiac disease are many and vary widely, and some people show no outward symptoms.
  7. Lyme disease. This bacterial infection caused by a tick bite can be hard to diagnose, but it can be deadly as well. Not everyone develops the telltale rash, and other symptoms – muscle and joint pain, fever, stiffness and fatigue – have numerous potential causes. The question to ask is whether the patient has been around woods, shrubbery, grassy fields or elsewhere that may allow exposure to ticks.
  8. Multiple sclerosis (MS). The first symptoms of MS are often numbness, weakness, or tingling in one or more limbs. An MS diagnosis is confirmed with a spinal tap or MRI to develop images of lesions on the brain.
  9. Fibromyalgia. Its symptoms include muscle and joint pain, fatigue, anxiety and sleep issues, which may be attributed to rheumatoid arthritis, lupus or chronic fatigue syndrome.
  10. Thyroid conditions. Thyroid disease may cause symptoms that are mild, such as weakness and fatigue, fluctuations in weight, and muscle pain, which may be wrongly attributed to depression.

A medical malpractice claim based on a diagnosis error typically must show that:

  • A deviation from the accepted standard of care caused the lapse of time between when a patient sought medical help and when a medical professional made a correct diagnosis; and
  • The delay caused the patient undue harm.

Determining the facts in a potential medical malpractice case is often a time-consuming process that requires the work of legal investigators and medical consultants. But those who have been harmed by preventable medical errors, including improper or delayed diagnosis, have a right to seek compensation for the injuries and losses they have suffered.

Contact a Texas Medical Malpractice Lawyer About an Improper Diagnosis

If you believe your medical condition was made worse by an improper or delayed medical diagnosis, the medical malpractice attorneys of Kraft & Associates, P.C., in Dallas may be able to help you. Our legal team conducts thorough investigations and analyses of potential medical malpractice cases, and aggressively pursues claims that can move forward.

Because of strict statute-of-limitations deadlines on medical malpractice cases in Texas, work on your potential claim should start as soon as possible. Contact Kraft & Associates as soon as possible to set up a free and confidential review of your case. Reach us by filling out our online form, e-mailing us at kraftlaw@kraftlaw.com, or phoning (214) 999-9999.

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