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How a Misdiagnosis Can Cause Harm to Patients

Gavel, Stethoscope and Law book
When troubling or painful symptoms arise, people often make an appointment with their physician or visit the emergency department to identify any possible health conditions. They expect medical professionals to be trained to ask the right questions and perform the necessary diagnostic tests to correctly identify what may be wrong. In too many cases, however, a doctor will fail to accurately identify the problem and will instead send the patient home with a misdiagnosis.
Effects of Misdiagnosis
At the very best, a misdiagnosis will simply cause a slight delay in recovery. For example, if you are diagnosed with a common cold but you had bronchitis, you may have to suffer with the symptoms for a longer time before you finally receive the correct diagnosis and receive antibiotics. If your true health condition is serious, however, a misdiagnosis can cause grave harm and may even be life-threatening.
Two of the most often misdiagnosed conditions are heart attacks and cancer,1and such misdiagnoses can cause harm in the following ways:
  • Heart attack – Heart attacks are commonly mistaken for indigestion or acid reflux, which means a patient will be sent home with antacids or similar medication. In reality, the heart attack could be a sign of serious heart disease and the patient may need surgery for blocked arteries or other dangerous circumstances. Without a proper diagnosis and treatment of their heart issues, a patient is at a high risk for another – possibly fatal – cardiac event.
  • Cancer – If cancer is left undiagnosed, the condition may progress to Stage 3 or Stage 4 and may spread throughout the body. At later stages, cancer requires more aggressive treatment or may not be treatable at all. Any delay in a cancer diagnosis can be extremely harmful. On the other hand, there have also been cases in which a patient was misdiagnosed as having cancer when they did not.2 Such patients may undergo drastic surgeries and painful chemotherapy before they discover the truth.
Discuss Your Concerns with a Chicago Medical Malpractice Attorney
In many cases, doctors can be held liable for a misdiagnosis if they were negligent in failing to identify the correct diagnosis. Patients have the right to hold negligent doctors liable for their losses, which may be extensive.
To discuss your situation with a medical malpractice lawyer in Chicago, please call Abels & Annes, P.C. at 312-924-7575 today or contact us online.
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