The first step in getting the medical help you need when you see a doctor is obtaining the appropriate diagnosis. Failing to obtain the proper diagnosis, or a delay in diagnosis, can have serious consequences. A condition that caught early on which may have been treatable had it been detected in a timely manner can worsen, becoming far more serious and even fatal in some instances.
An example of this is in the failure to diagnose cancer at an early stage. According to a recently filed medical malpractice lawsuit, two doctors and their employers made errors in failing to diagnose a woman's cancer when she first came to see them. The tumor continued to grow and the cancer spread, eventually reaching her lungs.
Misdiagnoses and delayed diagnoses of cancer deprive patients of the opportunity to treat potential fatal conditions early on, giving them the best chance at treatment and cure.
In this instance, the lawsuit alleges that the woman developed pain and lost her range of motion in her left knee. She assumed the problems were the result of running. However, an x-ray of her knee revealed a bone abnormality that her doctor thought may be cancer. The doctor then made a serious, life threatening medical error --he ordered an MRI of the wrong knee. Subsequent doctors who treated the woman then relied on this erroneous MRI, allowing the cancer to grow and worsen.
Seven months later after seeking a second opinion, the cancer was diagnosed. At this point the cancer had spread to her lungs and was now Stage III. From the time of the initial visit to the time of her diagnosis of cancer, the tumor had increased dramatically in size, the lawsuit alleges. Further, in the months it took to obtain a proper diagnosis, the woman's chance of long-term survival dropped from 70% to 30%. In addition to her decreased chances of survival, the woman also was required to undergo invasive procedures, suffered permanent injuries and endured months of pain, much of which could have been avoided had the diagnosis been made earlier.
While this case is still pending, it illustrates the need for an immediate and accurate diagnosis, and the serious harm that can come from delays and missed diagnoses.
For more information or if you or a loved one has suffered as the result of a diagnostic error, please contact the experienced Los Angeles medical malpractice lawyers at Bostwick & Peterson, LLP for an immediate consultation.