Being diagnosed with an illness or a chronic disease is life-altering for not only the patient but also the patient’s whole family. Generally, patients trust their physicians and healthcare providers to interpret test results and symptoms, and to assess the condition based on the best available medical information. Further, given the years of training a doctor has to undergo and strict licensure requirements, there is an expectation that the healthcare professional is competent and knowledgeable in the field. However, despite all the training a doctor may have, medical mistakes such as a misdiagnosis still occur.
Healthcare professionals have an ongoing duty to ensure that a reasonable standard of care is followed. However, where a missed or delayed diagnosis results in harm to a patient, the negligent healthcare professional, hospital or both may be held liable for damages. In fact, Pennsylvania residents may find it interesting to learn that recently the State Supreme Court denied an appeal made by the hospital, and upheld a ten million dollar medical malpractice suit, involving the misdiagnosis of a 60-year-old man.
In this particular case, the medical director of the ALS Associated Center at the University of Pennsylvania misdiagnosed the 60-year-old man, and informed him that he had about a year and half to three years to live. As a result of this news, the man made plans for his burial, only to find out nearly three years later that he had actually suffered from spinal cord compression, and that the medical director failed to make the right diagnosis.
A misdiagnosis can lead patients to take unnecessary medications for a condition which does not afflict them, or in the alternative, to not get the necessary treatment for the actual condition. Either way the consequences can be devastating for the patient. Thus anyone who believes that they have suffered harm due to negligent medical care may wish to consider contacting a Philadelphia failure to diagnose attorney for legal options.
Source: The Times-Tribune, “Verdict upheld in misdiagnosis trial,” Sept. 13, 2013