A significant number of medical malpractice cases are due to misdiagnosis or delayed diagnosis of a medical condition. Lack of a correct diagnosis can lead to incorrect or delayed treatment, worsening of a patient’s condition, and in severe cases, resulting in death.
Philadelphia Common Pleas Court has added roughly $1.3 million to the $10.1 million verdict that Andy Stern and Elizabeth Crawford won last November in a late diagnosed meningitis case. Delay damages are interest that begin to accrue starting one year after a lawsuit is filed. The case involved an 11-month-old child, Shamir Tillery, who was taken by his mother for treatment at the emergency room of Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. Doctors there diagnosed an upper respiratory infection and Shamir was sent home with little treatment.
Many Americans will be diagnosed incorrectly at least once in their lifetimes. That is the troubling finding made in a newly issued report by the Institute of Medicine (IOM). The report found that diagnostic errors are by far the most pervasive in medicine, outranking medication mistakes.
An estimated 12 million patients are misdiagnosed in the United States each year. A major part of the problem is a lack of communication, according to the report.
Concerned over an ongoing fever and other symptoms, Shantice Tillery took her baby to the emergency room at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. Doctors there sent her away with little treatment and a presumed upper respiratory infection. She returned a second day because her son’s condition had worsened and, after treating for a presumed respiratory ailment, she and her child were sent home yet again.
It was only the beginning of her problems when a wife and mother in her forties suffered a heart attack. Taken to a Philadelphia hospital, she was treated for the heart attack but later suffered additional symptoms, including headache and vomiting. A resident in the intensive care unit prescribed pain and anti-nausea medicine but failed to perform a CT scan. Had he ordered the test, it would have revealed a large bleed in the frontal lobe of the woman’s brain and could have prevented a stroke that caused permanent brain damage.
Pop star Avril Lavigne recently drew attention not for her singing voice but to the problem of misdiagnosing Lyme disease.
Lyme is an infectious bacterial disease most commonly contracted through a tick bite. It has been contracted by people in all 50 states and 60 countries nationwide.
Early symptoms of Lyme disease may include:
It has been estimated that missed, incorrect, or delayed diagnoses affect as much as five percent of—or 12 million—medical cases within the United States annually. Of those, about half of all diagnosis errors are harmful. For instance, a late or missed diagnosis of cancer can lead to a spread of the disease and result in unnecessary surgery, chemotherapy, or radiation therapy. Such a missed or misdiagnosis could also lead to reduced life span and death.
He was 61, a smoker, afflicted with high blood pressure and diabetes, but a doctor should not have ignored Finis Cuff’s high blood pressure of 200/80 during a visit in 2010. So said a jury in Delaware County recently in awarding nearly $7.4 million to Cuff, who suffered a stroke two days after leaving the doctor’s office. Cuff, of Darby, Pa., remains permanently disabled, without proper use of his legs and one arm and confined to a wheelchair. Defendants in the case were Dr. Douglas L. Keagle, Mercy Health System of Southeastern Pennsylvania and Mercy Medical Associates in Darby.
Approximately 1.3 million people are diagnosed with cancer each year, and misdiagnosis is not uncommon. Last year, tissue samples from 6,000 cancer patients across the country were reviewed by researchers at The Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore. It was determined that one out of every 71 cases was misdiagnosed, and up to one out of every five cancer cases was misclassified.
National Breast Cancer Awareness Month is a chance to increase awareness the early detection of breast cancer.