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.

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.


A stroke, also known as brain attack or Cerebral Vascular Accident (CVA), is a life-threatening occurrence that can either paralyze or kill a person instantly. It is usually the result of a blood clot in blood vessels which causes an interruption in the flow of blood to any area of the brain. Stroke is the third leading cause of death in the US and, though, it can affect anyone at any age, those 65 years old and above are the ones most susceptible to it.

According to the American Heart Association (AHA), from 2001 to 2011, at least 795,000 people suffered a stroke; about 185,000 are recurrent stroke events, while 610,000 are first occurrences. Though a stroke may occur unexpectedly, it does have symptoms but, which, unfortunately, are not easily identified (as signs of an imminent stroke) even by doctors due to these symptoms’ similarities with other types of illnesses. The list of stroke symptoms include: numbness in the face, arm, and/or leg, especially if this occurs on only one side of the body; sudden trouble speaking, difficulty understanding speech or confusion; sudden dizziness, lack of coordination, loss of balance, and/or trouble walking; and, sudden trouble seeing (in one or both eyes).

The effects of a stroke depends actually on the area of the brain affected (the specific area where obstruction of blood flow occurs) and the extent of the affected brain tissues. If a stroke, for instance, were to affect the back of the brain, one highly probable result is disability in vision. If the affected area, however, is at one side of the brain, then neurological complications will be on the side of the body affected (which is the opposite side since one side of the brain controls the opposite side of the body). This means that, if the right side of the brain were affected, then some of the effects may be memory loss, vision problems, and/or paralysis on the left side of the body. By affecting the left brain, however, it will mean paralysis on the right side of the body, plus speech or language problems and memory loss.

A major stroke is usually preceded by a Transient Ischemic Attack or TIA, which medical professionals commonly call a “warning or mini stroke.” TIA typically lasts for about 20 minutes; the flow of blood resumes after this.

For the effective treatment of stroke patients, as well as to help them recover fully, the American Stroke Association, the American Heart Association and the US Food and Drug Administration recommend that they be treated with a tissue plasminogen activator or tPA, a clot busting drug, within three hours of the start of stroke symptoms.

The website of Massachusetts lawyers Crowe & Mulvey, LLP, says that “stroke is a common and potentially life-threatening occurrence for patients of all ages.”

Reality, though, is proof that many doctors continue to err in providing appropriate medical treatment to potential stroke victims. By not fully examining these victims’ condition, not requiring them to undergo tests or by wrongly interpreting results of medical tests, doctors can be held liable for any harm any victim unnecessarily undergoes. When a doctor’s mistakes increase a stroke victim’s suffering, a Houston personal injury lawyer may be able to help the hurt person recover compensation for their medical expenses.