The questions on this page were answered by our team of Virginia Beach & Norfolk personal injury attorneys. The questions are categorized by practice area such as car accidents, medical malpractice, wrongful death, etc. If you have specific questions about your situation, contact our firm to set up a free consultation with an actual attorney.
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How can I know if a doctor’s misdiagnosis gives me grounds for a medical malpractice case?
Making a case for malpractice based on an alleged misdiagnosis requires proving all of the following facts:
- A provider-patient relationship existed, which means the doctor named as the defendant actually recorded your diagnosis;
- The doctor named as the defendant failed to meet the standard of care, which means that they made a mistake other doctors would not have made;
- The error directly harmed you, which means a direct connection can be made between the misdiagnosis and worsened symptoms; and
- The harm you suffered was severe, which usually means you suffered a disability, required hospitalization or needed lengthy and expensive treatment that would not have been necessary if the diagnosis had been correct and made in a timely manner.
You will need reports and testimony from independent experts regarding whether the defendant doctor failed to meet the standard of care, whether the misdiagnosis caused harm and how severe the harm was.
What causes doctors to misdiagnosis patients?
Several types of misdiagnoses occur and harm patients. Doctors get things wrong, take too long to arrive at the correct conclusion, fail to account for all symptoms and test results, and fail to notice that their patient is suffering from more than one health problem. The reasons doctors make such errors vary, and the causes can be related.
Cognitive bias, or seeing things through a specific lens, is a major cause of misdiagnoses. Doctors tend to treat certain patients in certain ways, and they often make the same diagnoses over and over again.
Time pressures also lead many doctors to rush to conclusions about what ails their patients. A doctor who spends too little time interviewing patients about symptoms and medical histories can easily miss essential information.
Bias and time pressures can then compound or cause other issues such as failing to order appropriate tests, doing tests incorrectly, misinterpreting test results, failing to communicate with other health care providers and ignoring new or worsening symptoms.
How many patients suffer harm or die from a doctor’s misdiagnosis?
The Center for Diagnostic Excellence at Johns Hopkins University estimates that 12 million Americans have their health conditions misdiagnosed each year. Center researchers also note that errors in diagnosing patients’ cause harm to around 4 million people annually. Anywhere from 40,000 to 80,000 patients die in U.S. hospitals every year because the cause of their life-threatening health condition was either not correctly diagnosed at all or not diagnosed in a timely manner.
What are the consequences of a delayed or misdiagnosis for skin cancer?
- Reduction in treatment options
- Severe and chronic pain
- More extensive, painful, and expensive treatment options
- Long-term or permanent disabilities
- Spreading and metastasizing of the cancer
- Inoperable skin cancer
What are some of the ways doctors are negligent in their missed or misdiagnosis of melanoma?
- Failure to take a formal medical history
- Failure to conduct a complete and thorough physical exam
- Failure to order a biopsy
- Failure to inform the patient of recommended cancer screening tests
- Failure to accurately read and interpret all diagnostic testing results
- Failure to come up with an appropriate treatment plan
How prevalent is melanoma?
According to statistics from the American Cancer Society, there are more than 75,000 new cases of melanoma (skin cancer) each year. Approximately 10,000 people die each year from complications caused by skin cancer.
Melanoma is not only the most common form of cancer; it is also the most misdiagnosed cancer. When caught early, the survival of skin cancer is high. It is critical for both patient and doctor to remain vigilant about any changes to the skin and to follow up with the proper testing and treatments if needed.
What type of harm can a patient suffer from a mediation error?
Patients can suffer horrific injury or death if they are a victim of a preventable medication error. Not only can the wrong medication or incorrect dosage affect the condition the patient is being treated for, but the error can cause other dangerous medical issues.
What are the different types of prescription medication errors?
A medication error can be made by a doctor, nurse, pharmacist, or other medical professional. Some of the more common includes:
- Giving the wrong medication to the patient
- Mixing up patients’ medications
- Prescribes or gives a patient mediation they are allergic to
- Fails to adequately warn the patient about potential side effects from the medication
- Mislabeling of a medication
- Prescribes or gives a patient medication that has adverse reactions to another medication the patient is taking
What is a preventable medication error?
A victim can suffer an injury from a prescription medication error when the doctor is prescribing the mediation, during the pharmacy dispensation, or while they are in the hospital. National data shows that there are more than seven million people who are injured by preventable medication errors each year.
What are the stages of sepsis?
1. Sepsis Symptoms
- Breathing rate higher than 20 breaths per minute
- Confirmed or probable infection
- Fever above 101ºF or below 96.8ºF
- Heart rate higher than 90 beats per minute
2. Severe Sepsis Symptoms
- Abnormal heart functions
- Chills caused by a fall in body temperature
- Decrease in urination
- Extreme weakness
- Low platelet count
- Mental changes
- Patches of discolored skin
- Problems with breathing
3. Septic Shock
- Symptoms of severe sepsis with very low blood pressure