Nationwide, about 20% of all serious illness cases are misdiagnosed. Generally, the doctor missed the patient’s illness or at least failed to appreciate its severity. As outlined below, substantial compensation might be available in these cases.
What Causes Medical Misdiagnosis?
Lack of data is usually at the heart of misdiagnosis problems. When patients try to explain their symptoms, most doctors listen for fewer than 10 seconds. During such a brief interaction, it is impossible to obtain any meaningful information. Many doctors in these situations are too anxious to move onto the next patient, mostly for financial reasons.
Money matters often cause another breakdown, which is the failure to perform diagnostic tests. Some doctors are afraid the insurance company will not pay for these tests. So, they go with their guts, and their instincts are not always correct. Alternatively, some doctors instruct nurses, technicians, or other subordinates to interpret test results. Sometimes these professionals lack the necessary qualifications, and sometimes things get lost in translation.
Commonly Misdiagnosed Conditions
All this talk is a bit theoretical. Let us have a look at some specific examples and see how these problems start.
- Lung Cancer: Many doctors believe that lung cancer is either a genetic or lifestyle condition. So, if a patient complains about shortness of breath or chest tightness, unless the patient is a smoker or has an extensive family history of lung cancer, the doctor often ascribes the symptoms to COPD or another rather mild respiratory illness. In other cases, if the doctor detects lung cancer, the doctor may believe it is non-small cell lung cancer. Therefore, the treatments might do little to blunt a more aggressive type of lung cancer, like mesothelioma.
- Heart Disease: Similarly, heart disease symptoms are often rather generic. If the patient is generally healthy, and there is no family history, doctors often believe that heart disease is stress or something else. That is especially true since not all patients experience signature symptoms, such as severe chest pains.
- Brain Injuries: The signature symptoms of a brain injury are unconsciousness and nausea, but not everyone experiences these symptoms. Additionally, a number of different things could cause a brain injury. For example, sudden loud noises often disrupt brain functions, so the patient might have a brain injury yet have no other physical symptoms. Without an extensive check, there is no way to tell.
Other commonly misdiagnosed conditions include depression and relatively rare diseases, such as Lyme disease.
Physician Duty of Care
Misdiagnosis is not always negligence, but it usually is. That is because physicians have a duty of care toward their patients. So, what might be an accident in some situations, like misreading test results, is negligence, or a lack of care, in the doctor-patient context.
The standard of care often comes into play, as well. If the patient exhibits certain symptoms, the doctor must respond in certain ways. If the doctor does not respond properly, and that failure causes injury, the doctor is liable for damages.
Frequently, Indianapolis personal injury attorneys settle these claims out of court and on victim-friendly terms. These cases are difficult for insurance companies to win because the duty of care is so high. Additionally, most hospitals prefer a quiet settlement over a public trial.
Reach Out to Dedicated Lawyers
Medical malpractice victims might be entitled to substantial compensation. For a free consultation with an experienced Indianapolis personal injury attorney, contact Holland & Holland. You have a limited amount of time to act.