Several years ago, a woman visited her OB/BYN specialist in Memphis with complaints of a strange lump in her breast. Her doctor dismissed her complaint and told her not to be concerned until it was time for her next checkup. Upon that next checkup, the woman complained again about the lump. However, her doctor told her it was likely just a fat deposit or a cyst, then neglected to order a mammogram. The woman became pregnant some months later and the lump became worse. At another appointment, the woman saw a different doctor who immediately ordered a mammogram and an ultrasound test. The results showed the woman had breast cancer and it had spread to her liver.
In order to treat the cancer, the woman underwent radiation treatment, chemotherapy, a lumpectomy and a hysterectomy. The woman and her husband filed a suit for medical malpractice and were awarded $24 million, which is reportedly one of the largest medical malpractice settlements in Tennessee.
Failure to Diagnose Patients Can Result in Serious Injury or Death
Doctors are responsible for spotting signs, symptoms and risk factors for serious medical conditions. If a doctor fails to diagnose a patient, they are essentially depriving that patient of possibly critical medical treatment, which may not be an option if the illness progresses. In particular, failing to diagnose cancer can occur when a doctor simply fails to fully consider the patient’s situation and take his or her complaints seriously.
A misdiagnosis can also be considered a failure to diagnose. However, a misdiagnosis mainly refers to when your doctor is completely wrong in diagnosing you with a certain condition, when you have a different condition instead. This may result in painful and unnecessary procedures that ultimately may not cure your illness.
In many cases, how early doctors are able to detect and diagnose cancer has a significant impact on the patient’s outcome. A delayed diagnosis occurs when your doctor does not make the connection between the symptoms you’re experiencing and a medical condition. When the process takes too long, the patient may miss treatment opportunity windows and the condition may worsen.
When it comes to diagnosing serious conditions, there is no room for error. If you believe your doctor is missing something in your diagnosis, or lack thereof, it is important to seek a second opinion.
“For at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light” Ephesians 5:8