Some medical conditions share similar symptoms, and some patients may be misdiagnosed. Although it doesn’t always result in serious consequences, in some cases a misdiagnosis can be life-threatening. One example is when doctors do not properly diagnose a stroke.
An untreated stroke can result in brain damage. This can lead to permanent disability. But the symptoms mimic a less serious condition, Bell’s palsy. The most common symptom is drooping on the side of the face, accompanied by weakness or sometimes paralysis.
The good news is that a recent study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine indicates emergency room doctors do a good job distinguishing between these two vastly different conditions despite the similarity in symptoms.
Although the findings indicate that only 0.8 percent of patients with Bell’s palsy received an alternate diagnosis – including stroke – ninety days after the ER visit, the fact remains that mistakes can happen.
Liability for Serious or Fatal Injuries Caused by a Misdiagnosis
Not all diagnostic mistakes are considered negligent. In order to find a doctor or another medical professional liable for injuries stemming from the incorrect or missed diagnosis, patients must prove the physician deviated from a reasonable standard of care.
This could mean the doctor failed to order appropriate types of tests or didn’t seek the opinion of a specialist when the situation warranted doing so. It can also stem from mixing up or misinterpreting test results. Medical experts may testify regarding whether the physician deviated from the reasonable standard of care given the specific circumstances.
For help understanding patient rights if a diagnostic error leads to serious or fatal injuries, contact an attorney at Gacovino, Lake & Associates. We can evaluate the circumstances of your case to determine if a medical professional may be held liable.