Common Diagnostic Errors in Medical Malpractice

medical diagnostic errorsDiagnostic errors often leave patients without knowledge of their condition and the treatments they need to improve their health. Such errors can also leave illnesses untreated until they progress to a point where more invasive and painful treatments are necessary or treatment is no longer effective.

Our Knoxville medical malpractice attorneys have experience handling many different types of medical malpractice cases, including those involving diagnostic errors. If you were harmed due to a diagnostic error, contact us to schedule a free legal consultation. 

Contributing Factors to Diagnostic Errors

Certain conditions are more difficult to accurately diagnose. This is commonly because their symptoms are similar to those of a less dangerous condition. A medical professional may believe a patient has something less serious, like the flu, due to the similar symptoms a more serious condition presents.

Other times, bad information from diagnostic labs may be the cause behind diagnostic errors. In some cases, poor communication between the physician and patient could be the cause. Diagnostic errors and failure to diagnose may also be caused by medical negligence committed by a medical professional, where the care a patient receives from the professional is not up to the medical community’s accepted standards.

Diagnostic errors may include:

  • Wrong diagnosis
  • Missed diagnosis
  • Delayed diagnosis
  • Failure to recognize a related disease
  • Failure to recognize complications
  • Failure to diagnose unrelated disease
  • Emergency room misdiagnosis

Conditions Involved in Diagnostic Errors

Some conditions are more commonly misdiagnosed than others. These include:

  • Lupus: Lupus causes joint pain, kidney problems and skin rashes as a result of the body’s immune system attacking tissues. Lupus can be fatal if the patient does not receive treatment.
  • Lyme Disease: Lyme disease is caused by tick bites from certain species. It causes long-term joint pain, fatigue, and stiffness. Many patients suffer through the symptoms of Lyme disease for over a year before receiving a correct diagnosis.
  • Celiac Disease: Celiac disease is a rare condition. Blood tests can provide false negatives for about 10 percent of patients who have this condition, leading to a misdiagnosis.
  • Cancer: Patients with certain types of cancer, such as skin cancer, breast cancer and lymphoma are often misdiagnosed. It can be especially challenging when many cancers present nonspecific symptoms which can delay treatment and cause serious harm.
  • Parkinson’s Disease: Currently, no lab tests exist for diagnosing Parkinson’s disease. Symptoms typically start with tremors in the hands or legs before progressing to a total loss of motor control, called catatonia.
  • Multiple Sclerosis: Multiple sclerosis is a progressive disease that gets worse over time as the body’s central nervous system is attacked. This reduces motor function in advanced stages causing patients to lose bowel control or the ability to walk. Early diagnosis requires several different diagnostic tests.
  • Fibromyalgia: Fibromyalgia is commonly mistaken for other conditions including lupus, chronic fatigue syndrome and rheumatoid arthritis. It is a chronic condition that causes generalized fatigue, joint and muscle pain as well as sleep issues.

Reducing Diagnostic Errors

The medical community is working to reduce diagnostic errors by improving knowledge and skills amongst medical professionals. Addressing system issues involved in diagnostic errors such as record keeping, test ordering processes and communication also work to reduce diagnostic errors.

Patients can also help reduce diagnostic errors by being engaged with the process. Patients should:

  • Be watchful for new symptoms that emerge
  • Know what symptoms to watch for
  • Know the expected course of time for the illness
  • Know how to access medical care again if the condition fails to improve
  • Be proactive to ensure diagnostic test results are reviewed by medical professionals
  • Ask medical professionals about alternative diagnoses
  • Access his or her own medical records

Contact Greg Coleman Law for a Free Consultation

If you have suffered an injury due to a diagnostic error, you may be entitled to compensation for your medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering. At Greg Coleman Law, a personal injury lawyer in Knoxville can review your case and inform you of your legal options for pursuing compensation.

Request a free, no obligation consultation today. We require no upfront fees and payment is only due if we recover compensation for you.

Call (865) 247-0080 or fill out our Free Case Evaluation form now.