If you wonder how common misdiagnoses are, the statistics paint a shocking picture. According to Docpanel, 12 million adults are misdiagnosed in the US each year, including 10-20 percent with serious conditions. Cancer diagnoses are particularly affected, with almost half of cancers misdiagnosed. Misdiagnosis and delayed diagnosis can have tragic consequences and lead to unnecessary treatments, increased medical bills, physical pain, emotional distress, and even death.
If you or a loved one experienced an injury due to a misdiagnosis, you could file a medical malpractice lawsuit. Damages available could include medical expenses, awards for pain and suffering, and others. Morgan & Morgan is here to help. Our experienced medical malpractice lawyers leave no stone unturned in fighting for fair compensation for victims of reckless medical professionals and hospitals. Contact us for a free case review to clarify your options.
What Qualifies as a Misdiagnosis?
A misdiagnosis occurs when a medical professional fails to recognize a patient’s condition or disease, leading to inaccurate treatment or no treatment at all. Misdiagnosing a minor illness may have little or no consequence, as the condition could resolve on its own. However, a victim’s life might be cut short when a doctor misdiagnoses a potentially deadly and fast progressing disease such as cancer, stroke, or heart attack. Moreover, a misdiagnosis or delayed diagnosis can cause disability, unnecessary pain and suffering, and a shortened life expectancy.
How Common Are Misdiagnoses of Serious Conditions?
According to the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP), doctors may be misdiagnosing up to 20 percent of serious conditions. Some of the most often misdiagnosed serious diseases include:
Stroke is a very time-sensitive condition. Treating patients suffering from stroke immediately can help to limit damage and save lives. Consequently, a misdiagnosis can lead to lost opportunities and failure to treat the patient promptly. Conditions that can mimic stroke symptoms include migraines and epileptic seizures, among others. According to Neurology Today, younger stroke patients are prone to experience a misdiagnosis and could be sent home from the hospital with suspected vertigo or alcohol intoxication.
When an individual develops sepsis, the outcome generally depends on timely treatment. Delayed response and treatment can result in life-altering consequences or death for the patient. Undiagnosed sepsis can lead to gangrene, amputation of limbs, and organ failure, potentially severely impacting a patient’s future life quality and lifestyle. However, the condition can be challenging to diagnose, especially when a doctor fails to assess the patient thoroughly or misinterprets the symptoms of the disease for another condition.
Lung cancer, when detected early, can potentially be successfully treated and, in some cases, even cured. However, misdiagnosing lung cancer means losing precious time. A patient may not receive treatment until the cancer is advanced when long-term survival rates are generally low. Medical conditions producing similar symptoms as lung cancer include:
- Acid reflux
- Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
Other Serious Conditions
There can be other severe conditions prone to misdiagnoses, including:
- Heart attack
- Severe blood clots
- Meningitis and encephalitis
Most of these diseases have in common that early treatment can save lives and reduce the possibility of lasting health consequences for patients. On the other hand, a misdiagnosis or delayed diagnosis can impact a patient for life or lead to an early death.
Other Commonly Misdiagnosed Conditions
According to the AARP, commonly misdiagnosed conditions include:
Lupus – An inflammatory disease with symptoms similar to rheumatoid arthritis or chronic fatigue.
Parkinson's disease – A degenerative disease of the central nervous system that can mimic stroke, Alzheimer’s, and head injuries.
Fibromyalgia – A chronic condition causing widespread muscle pain, with symptoms resembling chronic fatigue or arthritis.
Lyme disease – A severe infection caused by a tick bite that can mimic the flu, meningitis, depression, and other conditions.
Multiple sclerosis – An autoimmune disease with symptoms resembling viral infections, Alzheimer’s, and lupus.
Celiac disease – An immune reaction from ingesting gluten, with symptoms mimicking irritable bowel and other gastrointestinal conditions.
Chronic fatigue syndrome - A disorder causing extreme fatigue and symptoms mimicking hepatitis, sinus problems, and other conditions.
Misdiagnosis of the above conditions may not have the same dramatic consequences for a patient as misdiagnosing a heart attack or cancer. However, individuals could spend years searching for answers to their debilitating symptoms. Without adequate treatment, patients can suffer from physical and emotional anguish, reduced life enjoyment, and lost income due to the inability to perform at work. They may also incur steep medical bills due to a misdiagnosis.
Do You Have a Misdiagnosis Case?
A staggering 28 percent of misdiagnoses are life-altering or life-threatening, according to Docpanel. Moreover, the medical costs associated with misdiagnosis can be astronomical. However, to have a case, a patient needs to prove that a doctor or medical institution acted negligently by not following the accepted standard of medical care. The patient must also show that:
- There was a doctor and patient relationship
- The doctor breached their duty to treat the patient adequately
- The patient has an injury and damages as a direct result
For example, a woman is diagnosed with a benign cyst when suffering from breast cancer. Her doctor failed to order additional diagnostic tests ruling out cancer. As a result, the patient did not receive treatment until her tumor was bigger. In this case, the misdiagnosis resulted in more aggressive treatment, higher medical costs, unnecessary pain and suffering, and a reduced life expectancy. The breast cancer patient could have a medical malpractice case and pursue damages.
Compensation for Victims of Misdiagnoses
Every medical malpractice claim is unique, and settlement amounts can vary widely. However, harmed patients could pursue various damages, depending on their so-called “economic” and “non-economic damages.” Examples of economic damages include:
- Medical expenses
- Future medical costs
- Costs of household assistance or a health aide
- Lost income and future lost income
- Costs to modify the victim’s home or vehicle
- Out-of-pocket expenses
The suffering of misdiagnosed patients can be immeasurable and include great physical and emotional distress. Therefore, successful claimants could be entitled to the following non-economic damages and others:
- Physical pain and anguish
- Emotional suffering
- Reduced life quality
If you were misdiagnosed, you deserve the best legal representation and the best chance of getting the settlement you need. Morgan & Morgan never settles for less. Our attorneys fight tooth and nail for the best possible outcome in medical malpractice cases.
Misdiagnosis Leading to Wrongful Death
Losing someone unexpectedly is heartbreaking. No amount of compensation can turn back the time. However, filing a lawsuit could prevent those left behind from experiencing unprecedented financial hardship when someone dies due to a misdiagnosis.
If your close relative passed away due to medical negligence, you could file a wrongful death lawsuit and hold a medical professional accountable for your loved one’s death. You could be entitled to damages such as:
- Burial and funeral expenses
- Medical expenses before death
- Lost income and benefits from the decedent
- Loss of companionship
- Loss of parental guidance
- Loss of inheritance