Diagnosis is an essential part of medical care. A proper diagnosis is critical to getting the right treatment and being informed of your options. Likewise, a wrong diagnosis, or a diagnosis that is missed or unreasonably delayed, can be disastrous. Despite the critical role diagnosis plays in delivering effective medical care, missed, delayed or wrong diagnoses are suspected to occur between ten to 20% of the time, with over one-quarter of all diagnostic errors resulting in permanent disability or death. The lawyers at Palmer | Lopez help victims of diagnostic errors in Tampa recover compensation from the doctors and hospitals responsible for the serious harm caused by their medical mistakes.
The high number of diagnostic errors are not due to the presence of rare or uncommon diseases that are missed because the doctor is unfamiliar with them. It is more often quite simply negligence or incompetence on the part of doctors, nurses, radiologists and other medical professionals that leads to the misdiagnosis of common yet serious and life-threatening disorders and diseases. Chief among the most serious diagnostic errors are a missed diagnosis of cancer or sepsis.
Missed Diagnosis of Cancer
Some of the most commonly missed cancer diagnoses include lung cancer, ovarian cancer and colon cancer. Like many cancers, all of these cancers are treatable and curable if detected early. However, if they are allowed to grow and metastasize because of a delay in diagnosis or a missed diagnosis, they become quickly incurable and deadly, or terminal. Malpractice claims concerning a missed diagnosis of cancer frequently center around this “lost chance” to successfully treat a deadly disease at an earlier stage.
Strangely enough, cancer diagnoses are frequently missed even where the doctors have ordered CT scans, chest x-rays, colonoscopies or other appropriate tests. With so much at stake, it is imperative that doctors, radiologists and lab technicians perform tests correctly and take the time to interpret them correctly as well. Arriving at a correct diagnosis may require consulting with other practitioners in different fields to confirm or rule out a cancer diagnosis based on testing, the patient’s symptoms, and other factors.
Missed Diagnosis or Misdiagnosis of Sepsis
When there is trauma to the body or infection or disease, the body’s immune system will respond by flooding the affected area with specialized cells designed to fight infection. Sometimes, an overcharged immune response can overload the bloodstream with these infection-fighting cells so much that they wind up depriving the blood and vital organs of essential nutrients and oxygen. This condition is known as sepsis or septic shock, and it can lead to organ failure and permanent damage to the body or even death, if it is not recognized at its onset and treated immediately.
A diagnosis of sepsis is often missed because doctors mistake the signs as symptoms of some other disorder. A battery of tests, including blood tests and other lab tests as well as radiology scans, is often necessary to make a definitive diagnosis. Hospitals and HMOs may put undue pressure on doctors and nurses to push through their rounds and appointments as quickly as possible, with the result being the failure to diagnose a serious disease or condition before it has progressed to a dangerous stage. When doctors or hospitals fail to take the necessary steps for a definitive diagnosis, or when HMOs turn down necessary tests as a cost-containment measure, those responsible can be liable for all of the harmed caused by their negligence.
Professional Assistance in Analysis and Prosecution of Diagnostic Error Claims
Proving a diagnostic error case requires proving that the doctor failed to follow best diagnostic practices and also that the patient would have had a better outcome if the condition had been correctly diagnosed in a timely manner. This can be a challenging claim to prove, requiring the gathering of medical evidence and expert testimony, and being able to understand and communicate this information to a judge or jury in a compelling fashion. At Palmer | Lopez, our attorneys have more than 35 years of combined experience in personal injury and medical malpractice law. We know what it takes to bring a successful case and work hard to get the best result every time.
Our Attorneys Hold Tampa Doctors and Hospitals Accountable for Serious Diagnostic Errors
If you believe that a missed diagnosis or other serious diagnostic error was committed in your case, call Palmer | Lopez at 813-506-5651 for a free consultation with a team of skilled and knowledgeable Tampa diagnostic error lawyers. We will help you uncover the truth about your illness or injury and help you get the compensation you need and deserve.