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Seattle Failure to Diagnose Attorneys



Misdiagnosis, Delay in Diagnosis, or Failure to Diagnose

There are a number of ways in which a medical professional can cause harm to a patient through medical malpractice. Medical malpractice is when a doctor, nurse, surgeon, or other medical provider injures a patient by acting outside of the normal, accepted standards of practice. One of the most common forms of negligence that can lead to liability issues for the doctor or medical facility is a failure to diagnose.

Anything that prevents the correct and timely treatment of an injury or disease can be harmful and even deadly. If you or a loved one has been the victim of failure to diagnose, please contact an experienced Seattle medical malpractice attorney at Pendergast Law, to find out how we can help you. Call us today at (425) 228-3860 and toll-free at (888) 228-3860 for a free initial consultation.

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Dangers of Misdiagnoses

When you are ill, you worry about what is wrong with you, how to treat your ailment, and when you will feel better. Because you don’t have the 11 years of training that a doctor does, you rely on your physician to investigate your illness and properly diagnose you.

Many distinct illnesses have overlapping symptoms, leading to a high number of cases of incorrect diagnosis. If you are misdiagnosed, the underlying issue will not be treated, causing that condition to worsen. In addition, if you are misdiagnosed, you may be treated or prescribed certain medications that exacerbate your condition or create new injuries.

Often times, illnesses or injuries start out small with minor warning signs. For example, the first signs of stomach cancer are usually nausea and stomach pain, which may be misdiagnosed as a stomach bug.

This is why it is vital for a doctor to thoroughly evaluate all of a patient’s symptoms, review their medical history, and conduct any necessary tests needed in order to make the correct diagnosis. A timely and correct diagnosis will allow the doctor to begin treating the patient before the condition worsens. Waiting too long to develop a proper diagnosis puts the patient at risk of their condition worsening.

Some of the more common conditions that are incorrectly diagnosed include:

  • Heart disease
  • Pneumonia
  • Appendicitis
  • Infection
  • Pulmonary embolism
  • Aortic dissection
  • Heart attack (myocardial infarct)
  • Stroke, TIA (transient ischemic attack)
  • Cancers (carcinoma, sarcoma, lymphoma, etc.)

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The Risk of Heart Attack and Cancer Misdiagnoses

Two of the deadliest types of misdiagnoses are those involving cancer and heart attacks. Cancer needs to be diagnosed in the early stages so that doctors can create detailed treatment plans and prevent fatal injuries. If a doctor does not pay attention to important symptoms, it can lead to catastrophic trauma for a patient. Heart attacks, on the other hand, are medical emergencies that should be treated immediately and require a doctor to pay close attention to a patient’s symptoms.

Cancer Misdiagnosis

Few conditions are as serious as cancer. The best way to treat cancer is to detect it early and start treatment right away. When there's a failure to diagnose cancer, it can allow the disease to spread. What could've been treated with a simple surgical procedure might now lead to chemotherapy treatments, more surgeries, and long-term suffering.

A failure to accurately diagnose cancer can lead a patient down the wrong treatment path. This can make a difference in the patient's prognosis. Patients can suffer devastating consequences when a doctor fails to diagnose cancer. It's difficult to know how many lives are lost each year because of a failure to diagnose cancer. But, there are many people who would've had a better chance fighting cancer if they'd been correctly diagnosed when they first went to the hospital.

All forms of cancer are dangerous when they're not properly diagnosed and treated. Some of the most common failure-to-diagnose cancer malpractice claims involve:

  • Brain cancer
  • Breast cancer
  • Cervical cancer
  • Colorectal cancer
  • Lung cancer
  • Neuroblastoma
  • Oral Cancer
  • Ovarian Cancer
  • Pancreatic cancer
  • Prostate cancer
  • Skin cancer

Heart Attack Misdiagnosis

If a person arrives at the ER with the symptoms of heart attack, medical professionals are required to take specific actions. The patient is asked to describe the symptoms, which can be difficult. Blood pressure, pulse and temperature will be evaluated. A heart monitor must be attached to help to determine if a heart attack is occurring. Other testing procedures include an electrocardiogram (ECG), blood tests to identify enzymes that may be present in the blood in a heart attack, chest X-rays, an echocardiogram to spot heart damage, or coronary catheterization (angiogram), in which dye is inserted into the arteries to reveal any blockage.

Unfortunately, many people who visit the ER with the symptoms of a heart attack are not tested as they should have been, and were misdiagnosed as having a panic attack, anxiety, heartburn or other condition. Without proper testing, symptoms can be similar – but the outcome will be far, far different. If you or a loved one went to the ER complaining of any of these symptoms, and were discharged with a wrong diagnosis and later died or suffered serious medical problems, it is time to take legal action.

The correct response for the Emergency Department is often a cardiology consult. Sometimes, a specialist in cardiology is necessary to accurately diagnose a myocardial infarction. The gold standard for diagnosis of heart attack or “MI” has been determination of: 1) ischemic symptoms, 2) electrocardiographic changes, and 3) elevated creatine kinase-MB levels. Presence of any two indicate a myocardial infarction. With the advent of testing for troponin and more accurate CK-MB testing, an impending heart attack can now be diagnosed earlier.

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Delayed Diagnosis

Often times, illnesses or injuries start out small with minor warning signs. For example, the first signs of stomach cancer are usually nausea and stomach pain, which may be misdiagnosed as a stomach bug.

This is why it is vital for a doctor to thoroughly evaluate all of a patient’s symptoms, review their medical history, and conduct any necessary tests needed in order to make the correct diagnosis. A timely and correct diagnosis will allow the doctor to begin treating the patient before the condition worsens. Waiting too long to develop a proper diagnosis puts the patient at risk of their condition worsening.

Some of the more common conditions that are incorrectly diagnosed include:

  • Heart disease
  • Pneumonia
  • Appendicitis
  • Infection
  • Pulmonary embolism
  • Aortic dissection
  • Heart attack (myocardial infarct)
  • Stroke, TIA (transient ischemic attack)
  • Cancers (carcinoma, sarcoma, lymphoma, etc.)

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Filing a Medical Malpractice Claim in Washington

When someone goes undiagnosed or misdiagnosed for a prolonged period of time, it is necessary to review the actions of the doctor. Were tests ordered right away? Were mistakes made when reviewing the tests or reading test results? Did the doctor observe signs or symptoms and fail to follow up? These are the types of questions that will help determine whether or not negligence led to a failure to diagnose.

A medical malpractice claim is a civil lawsuit that you can file to receive compensation for inadequate or negligent medical care. A successful claim can result in compensation for the injuries, damages, and losses you have sustained as a result of mistakes made by medical professionals.

The damages that patients can seek in such cases include all medical expenses, lost income, hospitalization and rehabilitation costs, expenses related to unnecessary treatments, permanent injuries, disabilities, pain and suffering, and emotional distress.

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Contact Our Washington Failure to Diagnose Attorneys

The experienced Seattle failure to diagnose attorneys at Pendergast Law, have helped injured victims and their families obtain fair and full compensation for their significant losses. Please contact us at (888) 228-3860 to schedule your free, comprehensive, and confidential consultation.

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