The dire consequences of delayed diagnoses

Hospitals and healthcare providers are vital to the New Jersey communities and neighborhoods. Most put their lives and trust the judgment of their doctor or healthcare provider. However, there are times when medical mistakes such as a delay diagnoses, misdiagnoses, incorrect treatment or medication occurs and, serious injury or harm to the patient results.

No one is immune to such medical errors. Although the exact statistic is not known, over a decade ago, the Institute of Medicine estimated that there were nearly 44,000 to 98,000 deaths per year due to preventable errors. In fact, doctors, who are patients, have themselves been victims of medical mistakes.

One physician notes that even though he did not have any risk factors for the hardening of arteries, his leg was amputated because of restricted or blocked blood flow to his lower leg. He notes that well over a decade ago he had a pressurized cuff placed above his knee cap during surgery to prevent bleeding. However, the cuff was left in too long eventually scarring and calcifying surrounding vessels, blocking blood flow and, leading to the amputation. The event has been traumatic, and his work as a doctor has been put on hold.

Further, he notes that his former wife also suffered a preventable medical error when her thrombophlebitis or inflammation from blood clots was misdiagnosed and, as a result of a wrong dosage of a blood thinner she suffered a heart attack, renal failure, respiratory failure and shock. She was eventually transferred to another hospital where she received the appropriate treatment, right dosage and recovered.

If a delayed or misdiagnosis occurs, the medical condition ailing a patient can rapidly progress leading to serious harm or death. Doctors have an on-going duty to provide a reasonable standard of care. When they fail to do so and harm results, they may be held liable. Anyone can experience a medial error or be a victim of misdiagnoses. It may be helpful to consult with a medical malpractice attorney to understand one’s legal recourse such as a medical malpractice claim, and rights.

Source: The New York Times, “Losing My Leg to a Medical Error,” Frederick Southwick, Feb 19, 2013