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The Dangers of Late Diagnosis


According to the Institute of Medicine, as many as 12 million people, or about five percent of those who seek outpatient care, are given a diagnosis that is either wrong or late. While some of these errors are easily corrected and do not cause any long-term health complications for patients, many have devastating consequences. Fortunately, when these kinds of errors are the result of negligence, medical professionals can be held accountable for related costs, so if you were misdiagnosed and suffered health-related complications as a result, it is critical to speak with an experienced medical malpractice attorney who can help you seek compensation for your losses.

The Importance of an Accurate Diagnosis

Receiving the correct diagnosis is critical to the treatment process, as it not only provides an explanation for a patient’s symptoms, but also informs later healthcare decisions. Patients who are given the wrong diagnosis may be forced to undergo unnecessary procedures that are both painful and expensive or could suffer complications as a result of mistreatment. Missed or late diagnoses can make some conditions untreatable and in tragic cases, can even lead to death.

Commonly Misdiagnosed Conditions

Many illnesses share symptoms, which can make it difficult for healthcare professionals to differentiate between conditions when making a diagnosis. However, by ordering additional tests and patient examinations, these issues can almost always be resolved. Unfortunately, tests are often administered incorrectly or their results are overlooked, which can result in a dangerous misdiagnosis. This can happen with any illness, but the most common types of misdiagnosed conditions include:

  • Aortic dissection, which is often misdiagnosed as heartburn;
  • Cancer, which can be misdiagnosed if doctors fail to adhere to screening guidelines;
  • Coronary artery disease;
  • Minor heart attacks

Although a general lack of care is the most common reason for misdiagnosing these types of illnesses, there are a few specific actions that have a strong link to providing an incorrect diagnosis, including:

  • Miscommunication between physicians;
  • Failing to administer necessary tests;
  • Misreading lab or test results;
  • Failing to consider alternative diagnoses after reaching an initial conclusion; and
  • Failing to adhere to screening guidelines.

These types of actions can have serious consequences for patients, making it especially important for these individuals to speak with an experienced medical malpractice lawyer about filing a claim for damages. This is particularly important for Florida residents, as state law requires patients who have suffered an injury as a result of a medical professional’s negligence to file a claim against the responsible party within two years of the date that the victim discovered the incorrect diagnosis. In fact, even if a person does not become aware of a misdiagnosis until after this date, he or she will be barred from filing a claim if more than four years have passed.

Call a Member of Our Medical Malpractice Legal Team Today

Patients should be able to trust in the expertise and professionalism of their physicians. While many doctors deserve this level of confidence, others unfortunately do not. If you were injured as a result of a misdiagnosis, please contact Boone & Davis in Fort Lauderdale at 954-566-9919 today to learn more about your legal options.




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