Medical negligence can take many forms. From surgical errors to prescribing a dangerous combination of medication, patients can suffer serious conditions. Unfortunately, a wide array of medical malpractice cases can be directly traced back to diagnostic errors – either delayed diagnosis or misdiagnosis of a condition.
Medical professionals have a vast array of diagnostic tools available to them to determine an illness, infection, disease or life-altering condition. From blood tests to imaging to neurological examination, a doctor can follow numerous paths to arrive at a diagnosis and develop a course of treatment. However, it is not uncommon for crucial data to be missed or misinterpreted.
Five of the most commonly missed diagnoses are the following:
- Heart attack: In general terms, people know the main symptoms of a heart attack will commonly include chest pain and numbness in the left arm. However, other symptoms might lead a doctor toward a different diagnosis. For example, dizziness, fatigue, nausea and cold sweats could mimic a set of symptoms more commonly associated with the flu.
- Cancer: A delayed cancer diagnosis can have devastating, fatal consequences. Three of the most commonly missed cancer diagnoses are lung cancer, breast cancer and colorectal cancers.
- Pulmonary embolism: Occurring when a blood clot forms in or travels to the lungs through the bloodstream, a pulmonary embolism can be a challenge to diagnose because it shares symptoms with a chest cold, asthma or pneumonia.
- Drug overdose: Drug intoxication or a drug overdose might also present similar symptoms as other medical conditions. Additionally, patients might not be completely honest about their use of illegal substances, leading to an incomplete history.
- Stroke: A stroke diagnosis might come late because different people experience the symptoms differently. Many people experience stroke symptoms – weakness, confusion, poor coordination, difficulty speaking – suddenly, in a very short time period. Still others might experience a much slower onset.
While every case is unique and every patient struggles with a specific set of symptoms and consequences, medical professionals are trusted to develop an accurate diagnosis in a reasonable amount of time. When medical professionals fail in this regard and thus fail to meet the standard of care the consequences can be devastating. A delayed cancer diagnosis, for example, can very literally mean the difference between life and death.
With a skilled medical malpractice attorney on your side, you can get the answers you need and pursue full and fair monetary compensation based on your specific situation.