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Medical malpractice suits often necessary after misdiagnosis

What's one of the first things that patients do after receiving a serious diagnosis? For most patients, treatments start right away. However, not all diagnoses are correct. California patients who have been misdiagnosed must live with the aftermath of either not receiving treatment at all or receiving the wrong treatment; additionally, they most-assuredly experience a significant delay in getting the correct care for their illnesses. This type of medical malpractice can wreak havoc on victims' physical and mental well-being.

In 2015, the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine issued a report that urged medical professionals to improve their diagnostic practices. The report went on to explain that the vast majority of individuals will be the victim of least one error in diagnosis at some point in their lifetimes. Some of those diagnostic errors have serious consequences, and the report included evidence from autopsies that indicate these types of mistakes account for approximately 10 percent of deaths in patients receiving care. Some of the most commonly misdiagnosed illnesses include heart failure, cancer, pneumonia and general infections.

In 2004, a woman was sent to the emergency room after blood work revealed that she was suffering from severe anemia. After being admitted, she was given several blood transfusions and then underwent a colonoscopy and endoscopy. Doctors told her that she was most likely suffering from a small stomach ulcer that had scabbed-over, and then she was sent home. It was not until seven months down the road that she received an ultrasound for ongoing pain and was correctly diagnosed -- there was a cancerous tumor the size of a softball in one of her kidneys. By that time, the cancer had traveled up to the lungs.

An improper diagnosis is more than just an inconvenience. For some patients, it can be deadly. When doctors rush to diagnose before all of the information is in or overlook key factors in a person's health or symptoms, patients can be seriously and permanently harmed. California victims dealing with the related damages of misdiagnoses -- including additional medical bills and pain and suffering -- often turn to medical malpractice claims in order to achieve necessary compensation. When successfully navigated to completion, these claims can also help prevent similar incidents from happening to other patients.

Source: U.S. News Health Care, "Surviving a Bad Diagnosis", Katherine Hobson, Sept. 13, 2016

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