Wrong Diagnosis: Tearing through the Fine Line that Separates Life and Death and Illness and Health

According to the United States National Academy of Medicine, adverse effects of medical treatment cause 44,000 to 98,000 preventable deaths and 1,000,000 injuries in the US every year. These adverse effects often result from medical errors which so many medical professionals, health care providers and legal professionals believe are totally preventable. (The National Academy of Medicine, known as Institute of Medicine (IOM) until June 30, 2015, is an American non-profit, non-governmental organization).

A medical error usually results from a health-care provider’s provision of an incorrect or inadequate method of care, or delivery of what actually may be an appropriate method of care, however, in a wrongful manner. These mistakes, which are most frequently committed by doctors and other health care providers, include: error in medication/prescription, as well as in the dosage of medicine prescribed: surgical mistakes; error in dosage of anesthesia; and, errors that result childbirth injuries or traumas, and misdiagnosis or delayed diagnosis.

A big percentage of medical malpractice complaints is due to misdiagnosis or wrong diagnosis, a most common occurrence, especially in hospitals’ emergency departments, where hundreds of patients, with life-threatening conditions, are rushed every day. Besides having caused thousands of deaths in the past, misdiagnosis continues to put hundreds of lives in danger every day.

Many doctors will explain that there are health conditions, serious ones included, that are just too difficult to identify due to similarities of symptoms with many other types of illnesses; thus, some try to identify the real problem through what is called, “diagnosis of elimination.”

Some of these conditions that are difficult to identify include appendicitis, cluster headaches, migraines, polycystic ovary syndrome, fibromyalgia, celiac disease, irritable bowel syndrome, and sepsis or blood infection. In fact, there have been situations wherein: a young girl, who complained of abdominal pain, was diagnosed to be having just that, then, minutes after, her appendix ruptured; a 42-year old woman was discharged despite complaining of unusual chest pains, only to suffer a heart attack two hours after she left the emergency room; and, a male teen-ager who was sent home after being given Tylenol to treat his fever and chills, only to die shortly after due to blood infection or sepsis.

There is a very long list of actual situations, all depicting the painful and harmful consequences of misdiagnosis, including prescribing the wrong medication that only resulted to the worsening of the original complaint and the development of a new illness (an adverse effect of the wrong drug), and the performance of a surgical procedure when such is actually not necessary.

In her website, Oceanside medical malpractice lawyer Yvonne M. Fraser says “we trust doctors, nurses and other medical professionals to take care of us when we are sick or injured” and that though we never even think about the possibility of these people worsening our lives through misdiagnosis or other error, they are still prone to mistakes despite being highly trained. Their mistakes, however, can tear right through the fine line that separates life and death, and illness and health. Thus, though one would wish that the effects of misdiagnosis would only be minor, many more times these have been deadly or the cause of life-changing situations in victims and their families.

Victims of medical malpractice, however, have the legal right to seek compensation for whatever preventable injury or harm they have been unjustly made to suffer. They may find seeking assistance from a highly-skilled medical malpractice or personal injury lawyer worth considering as the various legal concerns leading to a lawsuit and fighting for their rights until their case has been decided will really be complicated and challenging.