Missed Diagnosis Indiana

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A missed, delayed or wrong diagnosis is a costly and potentially deadly form of medical malpractice. Unfortunately, for patients and their families in Indianapolis, Indiana and across the country, it is also a common medical error.

Although there have been significant advances in diagnostic techniques, patient monitoring and medical technology, a study in the Mayo Clinic Proceedings said that “the number of missed major diagnoses has not essentially changed over the past 20 to 30 years.”

A 2012 study by the Johns Hopkins Armstrong Institute for Patient Safety and Quality found that as many as 40,500 critically ill U.S. hospital patients die each year with an unknown medical condition that may have caused or contributed to their death.

A diagnostic error can cause a patient to undergo unnecessary medical treatment and testing. It can delay crucial action. In the worst cases, it can lead to the patient’s death. For the wronged patients and/or their families, the only recourse is to seek compensation for their physical, emotional and financial harm through a personal injury or wrongful death lawsuit.

Different Types of Misdiagnosis

There are many different types of missed or delayed diagnoses. The Johns Hopkins Armstrong Institute places misdiagnoses into four categories:

  • Vascular – Conditions that involve vessel blockages and bleeding, such as strokes and heart attacks.
  • Infections – These infections could include blood, bacterial, viral and fungal infections.
  • Mechanical pathophysiological – This includes organ malfunctions like congestive heart failure and bowel obstruction.
  • Cancer/Other – Breast, colon, cervical, prostate and esophageal cancers are among the most commonly misdiagnosed cancers. Rare diseases such as Lyme disease, lupus and fibromyalgia could also fall in this category. In some cases, a medical professional may miss the signs of an underlying mental disorder.

Another way to classify different types of misdiagnoses is to place them in broader categories, such as:

  • False positive – This occurs when a physician diagnoses a patient as having a condition that, in reality, does not exist. As a result, a patient may go through extensive testing and medical procedures – even surgery – that are unnecessary and potentially harmful. An example of a false positive would be a positive test for prostate cancer in a patient who does not have that cancer.
  • False negative – This occurs when a physician fails to diagnose a disease that does exist. As a result, the patient’s physical condition may deteriorate, and the patient and family may experience severe stress as a result. When a correct diagnosis is finally made, the condition may be beyond treatment. For example, a test may be interpreted as negative for prostate cancer when, in fact, the patient suffers from this condition.
  • Equivocal results – This occurs when a physician refrains from making a definite diagnosis due to inconclusive test results (or an inclusive interpretation of those results). This can result in unnecessary testing as the physician seeks a final diagnosis and decision on treatment. For instance, the doctor may find that results are inconclusive for prostate cancer. In the meantime, the doctor may order tests and prescribe medication that does little or nothing to address the patient’s illness.

A wrong diagnosis can trigger a series of bad decisions and harmful procedures. In the worse cases, the damage is irreversible. For instance, the Armstrong Institute’s study of diagnostic errors in intensive care units found that the diagnostic mistake was serious enough to have caused or directly contributed to the patient’s death in 8 percent of the cases studied.

Causes for a Missed or Delayed Diagnosis

  • Failure to conduct a comprehensive physical examination.
  • Failure to thoroughly review the patient’s medical history and other factors such as the patient’s occupation (which may have exposed the patient to risks such as asbestos).
  • Failure to order a diagnostic test such as an X-ray, MRI or blood test or to order follow-up tests that could detect a condition.
  • Failure to ensure that equipment used for diagnostic tests is working properly or has not been contaminated or otherwise compromised.
  • Failure to correctly interpret diagnostic test results, including diagnosing one disease while missing the signs of an underlying or associated disease.
  • Failure to communicate effectively with patients and/or other medical professionals.
  • Failure to recognize the signs and symptoms of a disease or other medical condition due to the matter’s being beyond the physician’s expertise (or failing to refer to a specialist).

Delayed or Missed Diagnosis, Medical Malpractice and Your Legal Rights

In the case of a delayed or missed diagnosis, the harm could be devastating. A patient may have gone through unnecessary testing or treatment that drained the family’s finances. The patient and his or her loved ones may have experienced extreme stress while wondering why there was no improvement. In the most tragic cases, the patient may die from an untreated illness.

Medical professionals are held to a recognized standard of care. When they fail to live up to that standard of care, patients and their families have a right to seek compensation.

If you or a loved one has been harmed by a missed or wrong diagnosis, you may seek medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering and other damages through a personal injury or wrongful death lawsuit.

Keep in mind: Except in certain cases where exceptions apply, Indiana law requires any lawsuit based on medical malpractice to be brought within two years from the date of the alleged act, omission or neglect.

This means it’s important to take immediate action if you suspect that your or a loved one has suffered injury due to a misdiagnosis. Contacting a skilled and experienced Indiana wrong medical diagnosis attorney such as those at Baker & Gilchrist can be crucial.

Contact A Indianapolis Medical Misdiagnosis Attorney Today

With over 60 years of combined litigation experience, Rex Baker and Caroline A. Gilchrist have the knowledge and skill to hold medical professionals and hospitals accountable for the physical, emotional and financial harm they cause by missing or delaying a diagnosis.

To schedule a free and confidential review of your case, call an Indianapolis medical misdiagnosis attorney from Baker & Gilchrist today at our toll-free number or fill out our online contact form. We’ll respond within 24 hours.