Medical providers are there to provide you relief from your pain or discomfort, treat life-threatening conditions, and help you get back to enjoying your life again. However, mistakes can also happen in the healthcare industry, and a John Hopkins University of School and Medicine study showed that misdiagnosis is the leading cause of serious medical errors.
Without a proper diagnosis, patients can experience adverse drug reactions or receive the wrong treatment. Incorrectly diagnosing a severe medical condition can also lead to permanent disabilities and even death.
If you or a loved one has been harmed by a medical misdiagnosis, understanding its common types and learning what to do after discovering a diagnostic error can help you preserve your right to use the court process. This also gives you enough time to work with Chicago wrong diagnosis lawyers to seek compensation for the injuries you’ve suffered.
Common Types of Medical Misdiagnosis
Healthcare providers, just like any other human being, are not perfect. However, their profession requires them to practice care and attention when working with patients, including examining their symptoms. Breaching this duty and care can lead to different types of diagnostic errors, including the following:
Laboratory Test Errors and Misread Results
With medical labs processing hundreds of samples daily, mistakes such as testing wrong patient samples, contaminating samples, and sending results to the wrong patient can happen. In the same way, primary care doctors and specialists who regularly review several tests like x-rays, CT scans, MRIs, and blood tests can misread results.
When lab test errors and misread results occur, life-threatening situations like the following can happen:
- A patient’s real health problem may not be identified.
- He or she may be diagnosed with the wrong medical condition.
- Severe conditions like heart attack, blood clots, and cancer can be missed.
- He or she may receive the wrong treatment.
With many diseases showing similar symptoms, inaccurate diagnoses resulting from negligence can bring about severe consequences. For example, misdiagnosing a heart attack as heartburn or anxiety can lead to fatal results, as the patient may not be able to receive the emergency care they need on time.
Other commonly misdiagnosed conditions include stroke, bowel obstruction, appendicitis, lupus, multiple sclerosis, and Lyme disease. A diagnostic error can result in organ damage, chronic illnesses, and serious disability.
In contrast to wrong diagnoses, missed diagnoses occur when, instead of getting treated for the wrong disease, a patient showing signs and symptoms telling of a particular condition is told that he or she is fine. As a result, the patient is sent back home without receiving the necessary treatment.
In some cases of diagnostic errors, the diagnosis is correct — but it’s made later than a doctor or physician should have. The delay can cause serious, permanent, or fatal consequences, especially if the patient’s health has worsened or the disease has reached an incurable stage.
Delayed cancer diagnoses can consequently lead to delayed care, often leaving patients with worsening conditions, unnecessary pain and suffering, higher costs of care, and even a lower chance of survival.
This diagnostic error usually involves failing to perform tests like biopsies, mammograms, and MRIs. Cancer may also be belatedly diagnosed due to failure to recognize breast lumps, abnormal pap smears, rectal bleeding, and other symptoms that could indicate cancer, as well as failure to interpret test results correctly.
Failure to Diagnose Other Diseases or Recognize Complications
Patients can have two or more diseases. As such, diagnosing one but failing to catch the others can be considered a medical diagnostic error.
Similarly, correctly identifying a patient’s disease but missing the risk factors for medical complications can also be grounds for a medical misdiagnosis claim. With this mistake, patients can receive medications that aggravate their condition.
Misdiagnosis in the Emergency Room
While many medical diagnostic errors happen in doctor’s offices, clinics, and other outpatient settings, patients can also receive inaccurate diagnoses in emergency rooms. In an environment where there is increased time pressure, healthcare professionals may be rushed to attend to patients.
It’s worth emphasizing that emergency rooms often see severe and urgent illnesses and injuries. A wrong, missed, or delayed diagnosis can easily cause immediate harm to patients.
Misdiagnosis and Medical Malpractice
A medical practitioner’s misdiagnosis does not automatically mean he or she has committed medical malpractice. Even the most experienced physicians can make errors, and a doctor can order tests and do everything correctly and still miss or make the wrong diagnosis.
For a misdiagnosis to be considered malpractice and, therefore, become grounds for pursuing legal action, these elements must be present:
- That the doctor owed a duty of care to a patient;
- That the doctor breached that duty, either by his or her action or inaction and;
- That the misdiagnosis worsened the patient’s medical condition and/or resulted in physical, psychological, or financial loss.
What to Remember About Pursuing Legal Action for Medical Misdiagnosis in Chicago
If you are considering pursuing legal action, the Illinois statute of limitations generally requires lawsuits to be brought within two years from when the error occurred or when they reasonably should have known it occurred.
It can take a year or more for some patients to discover mistakes in diagnoses. In these cases, they are generally given two years from the time of discovery – but no more than four years from the date the diagnostic error occurred – to work with a Chicago wrong diagnosis attorney and file their claim.
Misdiagnosis cases can cause a mental disability or affect already mentally disabled people. In general, there is no statute of limitation for mentally disabled persons who meet the requisite criteria to pursue a medical malpractice case. This includes cases involving misdiagnosis.
Medical diagnosis cases affecting children below 18 are another exception to the rule. If your child has been harmed or injured by a diagnostic error in Illinois, the state’s statute of limitations gives you up to eight (8) years from the date the mistake occurred to pursue legal action. However, the claim must be filed before the minor’s 22nd birthday, regardless of when the incident happened.
With these timelines, it’s crucial that you speak with medical malpractice attorneys in Chicago as soon as possible. Filing a successful claim takes time, as you must gather substantial evidence and conduct thorough investigations to establish a strong case. Seeking expert help early on can help ensure you preserve your right to bring a medical malpractice lawsuit.
Steps to Take After a Misdiagnosis
- Seek Proper Medical Attention
Before anything else, ensure you have any injury or illness that resulted from the medical error, like misdiagnosis, checked and promptly treated. Your health is a top priority, so it’s best to begin proper treatment as soon as possible.
- Gather Documents and Other Helpful Evidence
Proving misdiagnosis as medical malpractice can be difficult, so gathering key documents such as medical records, wrong prescriptions, bills, invoices, and records showing the correct diagnosis can help you build a solid case.
- Seek Help From Chicago Wrong Diagnosis Lawyers
It’s crucial that you consult a lawyer specializing in medical misdiagnoses in the city as soon as you realize the error. Experienced Chicago medical malpractice lawyers recognize the most substantial pieces of evidence to look for when pursuing these kinds of claims, so they can help you gather and preserve the medical records you need to build your case.
Most importantly, since misdiagnosis claims can be complicated, they can offer knowledgeable guidance as you pursue legal action.
- Direct All Communications to Your Legal Representative
Your doctor, hospital, or their malpractice insurer may get in touch with you in hopes of resolving the case without the need for legal proceedings. In these situations, it’s almost always better to refer them to your lawyer than entertain them yourself. The medical malpractice attorneys taking on your case can review the offers they made to protect your rights.
Let an Experienced Chicago Wrong Diagnosis Attorney Help You Receive the Settlement You Deserve
Patients seeking relief from their pain or illness should not have to suffer from worsening conditions, mounting hospital bills, and even death due to diagnostic errors. Unfortunately, these mistakes happen across all areas of medicine, with a study showing that around 40,000 to 80,000 people die from complications due to misdiagnosis each year.
Misdiagnosis cases can also be challenging to prove, as documents and thorough investigations are necessary to gather evidence about the malpractice. Some are not able to file a claim before the statute of limitations expires, so they end up forfeiting their right to due process and compensation.
For these reasons and other reasons, we encourage you to get in touch with Kroot Law, LLC, about your case as soon as possible. Our law firm concentrates on misdiagnosis, personal injury, and wrongful death cases in Illinois and has a reputation for delivering unmatched personal service and exceptional results.
Please fill out this form or reach us at (312) 543-0030 to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation with Chicago wrong diagnosis attorney Jason M. Kroot.