Recently, a jury awarded $3.3 million to the family of a woman who died following a delay in diagnosis. According to the medical malpractice lawsuit, a 23-year-old woman with lupus presented to the emergency room with symptoms requiring routine blood tests. However, these tests were not performed, and the woman was discharged. 32-hours later she returned to the emergency room and was diagnosed with a rare blood disorder. By then it was too late to treat her, and she passed away shortly thereafter.
Making a proper a timely diagnosis is critical to properly treat a patient. The failure to make an immediate diagnosis – or making the wrong diagnosis – may close the window to provide the care a patient needs, leading to lasting harm, and may be fatal – as was the case here. Improper diagnoses are one of the leading causes of medical malpractice.
In this instance, the woman presented with shortness of breath, facial numbness and slurred speech. Routine blood tests such as a CBC or Chem-7 test would have revealed that she suffered from the blood disorder, and she could have been successfully treated at the time, representatives of the family asserted. However, she was not given any tests and was sent home without a diagnosis. Although the defense argued that there was no proof that a timely diagnosis would have saved her life, the court disagreed and ruled that she could have been saved had she received timely treatment.
While in some situations a delay in diagnosis may not alter the ultimate outcome or prognosis, many times the failure to accurately assess a patient’s condition and treat it properly can have catastrophic consequences. For more information or if you or someone you love has suffered harm due to the failure to diagnose or a mistaken diagnosis, please contact the dedicated Los Angeles medical malpractice lawyers at Bostwick Peterson, LLP for an immediate consultation.