Are medical misdiagnoses hindering personal injury lawsuits?

In a recent post, we discussed the problem of delayed symptoms that might not surface until weeks or even months after a brain injury. The absence of symptoms might result in a delayed diagnosis. Yet even more troubling is the prospect of a misdiagnosis. 

In a recently released report, an example was given of a patient who reported to an emergency room complaining of chest pain. Yet since the woman’s tests were normal, the attending doctor diagnosed her condition as acid reflux, rather than a heart attack. Attending staff also requested the woman to refrain from asking questions. Two weeks later, the patient returned with a blocked artery and a heart attack.

As this example illustrates, tests alone cannot take the place of a doctor’s expertise. They are subject to interpretation. Yet when misinterpreted, does that misdiagnosis rise to the level of medical negligence? According to one commentator, doctors often don’t know when they have made a misdiagnosis. Even if a second opinion is sought and results in a correct diagnosis, the first doctor might not be informed that his or her diagnosis was wrong.

In the context of personal injury law, a correct diagnosis is essential for the victim of another’s negligence to request the proper amount of damages in a civil lawsuit. Whether that injury was due to motor vehicle negligence or a defective product, an injury victim needs to understand his or her prognosis for long-term recovery and functioning. Our law firm focuses on personal injury law, and we have experience working with professionals who can help an injured victim properly assess his or her condition and potential long-term care expenses. 

Source: Washington Post, “Most Americans will get a wrong or late diagnosis at least once in their lives,” Lena H. Sun, Sept 22, 2015 

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