What You Need to Know About Misdiagnosis
In a country where healthcare and medical services are on the expensive side, accessing healthcare services becomes a real problem. This problem isn’t because of the unavailability of services but the cost one incurs while availing them.
The healthcare industry in the US is not really the open market it claims to be, where consumers could compare and choose services based on quality, and as a citizen, you’re assured high-quality medical facilities irrespective of your financial situation.
Instead, healthcare providers in the U.S seem to specialize in surprising their unsuspecting consumers with invisible costs and ambiguous bills that add up to a massive dent in your pocket, that too with no uniformity or consistency between competing healthcare services.
For instance, you could be charged anywhere between $53,000 to a whopping $115,000 for putting a patient on a ventilator, and the breakup of this cost could vary from facility to facility. But the problem isn’t merely that of mounting health costs. You would probably think that you’re getting provided with the very best quality of services for the price you’re paying, but here too, there are some serious problems, but none of them, arguably are as serious as medical misdiagnosis.
What Is Medical Misdiagnosis?
A medical misdiagnosis occurs when a medical professional incorrectly diagnoses a patient with the wrong medical condition, either as a result of misinterpretation of diagnostic results or inadequate examination, sometimes even resulting in delayed diagnosis.
There are multiple factors that can cause a medical misdiagnosis, but nearly all kinds of misdiagnosis are rooted in negligence on the part of the practitioner, such as failing to diagnose a tumor when it is actually malignant, or in the other case, diagnosing a patient with an ailment, that they do not actually have.
You can see why medical misdiagnosis is such a big problem. While it is difficult to analyze it in terms of a pattern or definite causes, there’s no denying that it is indeed a grave concern, and the numbers definitely prove it.
Medical Misdiagnosis: The Numbers
Medical malpractices or errors are the third leading cause of deaths in the United States, with more than 250,000 deaths each year, more than those caused by respiratory disease, which kills close to 150,000 people each year. In addition, death certificates do not attribute the loss of life to medical malpractices or misdiagnosis, which means national statistics for medical misdiagnosis are extremely skewed and inaccurate. Clearly, the medical coding system in the U.S. was designed to increase physician’s billings (and earnings), as opposed to collecting national health statistics, as it was intended to be used.
Another interesting finding related to medical misdiagnosis is that over the last decade, state records claim that the number of medical misdiagnosis or negligence cases filed has drastically reduced, but this has less to do with improvements in the quality of diagnosis or reduced errors, and more with the fact that unless you have solid legal support, the other party (physician or facility) will usually manage to put up strong evidence in their favour, which makes it extremely crucial that you find the right insurance agency to represent you when filing a medical malpractice case.
Medical Misdiagnosis: The Stories
One of the most common ways in which health practitioners and medical facilities tend to be negligent about patients is through inadequate or inaccurate diagnosis. In some cases, the facility overlooked a condition or symptom that might have been responsible for worsening the patient’s health, or even leading to death.
One such suit filed against a medical facility in Englewood, is by the family of a woman in her late 30’s, who was a patient at the said facility between 2014 to 2015, citing symptoms that could have been attributed to cervical cancer, but were left undiagnosed by her gynecologist.
The patient eventually succumbed to cervical cancer, and had until her death received diagnosis and treatment that completely neglected her cancer.
In another case that involved colon cancer being misdiagnosed as hemorrhoids, a 62-year old man lost his life in 2011, nearly 3 years after the doctor he first saw confused what were very obvious signs of colon cancer as hemorrhoids instead.
It wasn’t until the patient’s condition worsened and a doctor performed a colonoscopy on him. Despite receiving chemotherapy and radiation, his life could not be saved, which might have not been the case had the doctor he first visited been careful enough to carry out the required diagnostics instead of attributing the patient’s bleeding to something else.
And it is not only medical practitioners and facilities who are at fault for misdiagnosis – diagnostic laboratories are just as much to blame. Studies have revealed that nearly 12 million Americans, have at least once in their lives suffered as a result of a poor diagnosis owing to faulty lab results. Faulty medical diagnoses are usually caused by outdated, fault testing equipment in diagnostic labs, or negligence on the part of technical staff that leads to mixed up reports.
Other cases of malpractice also include obstetricians and gynecologists who were negligent in informing expectant mothers about carrying a fetus with a potentially terminal or congenital disease, or a disorder such as Down’s Syndrome, in some cases, diagnosing the fetus with these problems only after it was too late to terminate the pregnancy. This would usually mean putting both the mother and child at risk, or having to deal with the trauma of bringing up a child who needs constant medical attention.
Cancer makes for the most commonly misdiagnosed ailments under medical malpractice, followed by heart disease, prenatal disorders, as well as orthopedic conditions such as fractures, in addition to allergies as well as food-related diseases such as lactose intolerance, nut allergies and Celiac’s disease.
Irrespective of what you read about medical malpractice lawsuits on the decline, the truth is that medical negligence and misdiagnosis are extremely common, and that other than visiting a trusted facility or practitioner, your only other option is to find a reliable insurance and legal service that will stand by you when you find yourself in need of advice.