Case Study: Misdiagnosis as a Form of Medical Malpractice

A few months ago, we were contacted by Janice Morales (name changed for privacy reasons), an initially healthy and strong woman who now requires 24/7 care due to a medical misdiagnosis. Before the incident, Janice actively worked as a maintenance supervisor earning $24,000 a year. In her free time she enjoyed spending time with her large extended family and going on road trips with her husband, Jeremiah (name changed for privacy reasons).

Unfortunately, in December, 2020 all this was about to change. It all started on the 12th of December when Jeremiah took his wife Janice to the emergency room because she was experiencing extreme headaches, numbness, and weakness on her left-hand side of the body. 

Looking at his wife’s condition, Jeremiah, an intelligent and intuitive gentleman who loves his wife dearly, informed doctors that he believed his wife was having a stroke. Unfortunately, the doctor ignored him. Instead, the medical practitioner requested a CAT scan on her neck, diagnosed Janice with a pinched nerve, and released her to go home. Hospital staff didn’t even bother to order a test to rule out stroke or at least perform the basic checks.

After release from the hospital, Janice was still experiencing headaches, slurred speech, numbness, and loss of strength in her left arm. Jeremiah decided to take her back to the hospital two days later. Sadly, by the time they arrived, Janice’s stroke had progressed too far to take preventative action. 

As a result of this misdiagnosis, today, Janice Morales is disabled and cannot walk or perform any activity on her own. That means she now has to rely on her husband to shower, eat, and perform all other basic tasks. While this is painful enough for the couple, the situation has also imposed an enormous financial burden on them. 

Jeremiah has not been able to return to work because Janice needs 24/7 assistance, and now his job is also threatened. They can’t afford to get help – and Janice’s loss of income from her job as a maintenance supervisor amounts to $24,000 a year. If Jeremiah also loses his job, this family’s financial loss amounts to $51000, not to mention the additional medical bills due to caused by the medical misdiagnosis

Janice, who was only thirty-three years old when this happened, has unfortunately joined the swollen ranks of patients victimized by overly optimistic doctors who don’t listen, and instead doggedly pursue their own biases, regardless of external data – such as the patient’s word.

Doctors, nurses, physicians, clinicians, and other health practitioners are responsible for providing a high standard of care to their patients. Negligence in performing these duties falls under medical malpractice, opening up the practitioner to lawsuits.

Stressed doctor cover face under pressure. Sad nurse, tired physician or upset doc. Medic crying in hospital office. Malpractice, treatment error and mistake or negligence. Workplace bullying.

Misdiagnosis occurs when a health professional gets the disease/condition wrong and typically occurs in one of three ways: 

  • Patients can be diagnosed with a disease/condition they do not have. 
  • The practitioner may fail to diagnose an underlying health issue at all. 
  • The service provider could also find the wrong disease/condition in the wrong patient.

When that happens, it’s important that the medical practitioner is held responsible and brought to justice. This helps send a message to thousands of victims who suffer from medical malpractice that their voices, and their pain, can be acknowledged. Below, we explain why misdiagnosis persists to date, how often it occurs, and how to respond to it, should you become a victim.

How Often Does Misdiagnosis Occur?

The past few decades have seen rapid growth in technology across all sectors, including health care. Healthcare providers use complex machines to detect the slightest health issues and offer treatment early in the disease development stage. Yet somehow, misdiagnosis lives on in healthcare systems around the world. Misdiagnosis results in::

How much can Justpoint get for Janice?

At Justpoint we have dealt with thousands of medical malpractice cases and several cases like Janice’s.

According to our rich data and proprietary AI technology, Janice’s case in her state of residence (OH) could yield 2,320,155.

This amount is not enough to buy Janice’s health back, however, it could significantly help improve Janice and Jermiah’s quality of life, especially now that they have a lot of medical bills to cover.

Causes of Misdiagnosis in the US

Given all of our advanced technology, why does misdiagnosis occur at all?

  • Doctors don’t spend enough time with patients – the current U.S. healthcare system indirectly contributes to this lack of time for patients. Currently, there is a high demand for healthcare services, and available supply is not enough. According to Mercer’s report on the US healthcare labor market, the country could see an even bigger shortage, of 3.2 million health workers,by 2022. This, plus the fact that doctors spend an average of 18 minutes with each patient, means that healthcare professionals are not spending enough time with patients to discuss all of their symptoms, concerns, or anything that may lead to a correct diagnosis.
  • Doctor inexperience and overconfidence – People make mistakes for several reasons. Even the most experienced doctors make mistakes sometimes, and this could lead to fatal consequences. If a doctor is too experienced, they may assume that they are right without paying attention to the patient’s own experience. Inexperienced doctors, on the other hand, are the opposite. They sometimes fail to match symptoms to the corresponding diseases or perhaps misinterpret test results.

Other reasons include fragmented healthcare, and lack of follow-ups between doctor and patient.

What to Do Should You Become a Medical Misdiagnosis Victim

Victims of medical misdiagnosis often know too late, after the harm has already been done. The good news is, you don’t have to wait for the next appointment to have yourself checked. Here’s what to do should you fall victim to misdiagnosis.

  1. Visit the nearest health facility for a checkup.
  2. Ask for a second opinion from another practitioner if you feel the need to do so.
  3. Contact a medical malpractice attorney near you.
  4. Seek additional healthcare if needed.

Medical misdiagnosis is a product of human error. Many people would jump into a conclusion of negligence on the doctor’s part if they were misdiagnosed. However, remember that the law has clear definitions on what constitutes negligence, and what does not. 

Final Thoughts

Although healthcare service providers make medical errors in all diseases/conditions, Justpoint believes there is still hope. We believe that everyone, including patients, doctors, physicians, nurses, and the health system at large, has a duty in reducing the rate of misdiagnosis. We recommend the following best practices:

  • Including patients in any diagnostic improvement efforts.
  • Supporting better engagement for healthcare providers and patients in the improvement of diagnostic performance.
  • Prioritizing diagnostic improvement.
  • Enhancing the nation’s medical education system to teach healthcare providers what they need to know for accurate and timely diagnosis.
  • Conducting research on diagnostic accuracy.

Medical misdiagnosis can cause pain and suffering and should not be treated lightly. Should you become a victim, first take care of your health, and get in touch with a medical malpractice attorney as soon as possible.

For more insights, or immediate help with misdiagnosis please reach out to our experts here for a 1-minute case evaluation. Our team legal and medical experts will offer advice, estimate your paypout and help you get justice.

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