Effective medical treatment begins with an accurate diagnosis of the patient’s illness or injury. Any error in identifying the patient’s condition can delay effective treatment with disastrous consequences for the patient. If you believe that misdiagnosis or an unreasonable delay in diagnosis caused a serious injury or death in your family, contact David Randolph Smith & Associates in Nashville for a free consultation with a knowledgeable medical malpractice lawyer.
Malpractice cases that turn on errors in diagnosis can be deceptively difficult to prove. Your attorney needs not only to show that a treating physician, radiologist or pathologist missed the signs of a dangerous heart condition or cancer, but also that a reasonably careful professional would probably have made a correct diagnosis under the same circumstances.
In other words, you can’t necessarily blame a doctor for misdiagnosis of stroke symptoms or a malignant tumor. However, if the medical error resulted from a negligent failure to review records, order tests, or interpret lab reports, it may be possible to collect damages from a negligent doctor, technician or hospital.
Just as in other medical malpractice claims, your ability to prove the defendant’s liability depends a great deal on your attorney’s ability to work effectively with medical professionals whose support will be crucial to the success of your claim. Expert testimony is necessary to prove negligence against the doctors who had the chance to identify an illness in time to do something about it.
Did a Doctor’s Diagnosis Error Hurt Someone in Your Family?
Our experience with the investigation and evaluation of misdiagnosis cases can help you find out whether your medical malpractice claim has a likelihood of success. If we recommend a lawsuit, our careful attention to detail on liability and damage issues can make a significant difference in the outcome of your claims.
Our law firm advises people in Tennessee and Nashville who need to find out whether a negligent physician’s diagnosis errors caused a family member’s death or serious injury due to a misdiagnosis or delayed diagnosis of stroke, heart disease or cancer. To get answers to your questions, contact David Randolph Smith & Associates for a free consultation.
Example of Diagnostic Errors
Gentamicin is a powerful antibiotic that is frequently administered intravenously (by IV). Doctors and hospitals are aware of the potentially serious side effects of gentamicin and have adopted strict guidelines for monitoring the levels of the drug in patient’s blood. A set pattern of regular testing is used to identify the peaks and troughs in dosage levels. If these levels become excessive through negligent monitoring, gentamicin poisoning may the result. Gentamicin poisoning is known to cause any of the following:
- Permanent damage to the small hairs of the inner ear (ototoxicity) resulting in permanent balance disorder, vertigo or ringing in the ears (tinnitus)
- Bouncing vision (oscillopsia) that makes it difficult to distinguish details, especially when walking down the street or driving at night
- Difficulty concentrating, memory problems and fatigue
- Kidney damage and renal failure
In some serious cases of gentamicin poisoning, patients have died. If you were prescribed gentamicin during a hospital stay and you are having trouble with balance, vision or memory, please contact our offices to learn more about gentamicin poisoning and your legal options for seeking compensation for the permanent damages you may have suffered. Gentamicin poisoning occurs in the home health care setting as well as in hospitals. Whether administered alone or in conjunction with another IV antibiotic like vancomycin, the danger of permanent damage due to negligent monitoring is especially high when the patient is under the direct care of a home health care nurse rather than a doctor who is fully familiar with the protocols.
Failure to Diagnose Heart Attack
Heart attack misdiagnosis cases are very specialized and require various experts to show what information a doctor had and how he or she used that information to diagnose, or misdiagnose, the problem.
- Doctors. Many experts are required in heart attack misdiagnosis cases such as a physician in the same specialty as the doctor you are claiming failed to correctly diagnose the patient. For example, if this happens at a doctor’s office, and it’s a family practice document, then that’s the type of expert we would need to initially evaluate in order to find out whether a misdiagnosis occurred. It could involve any kind of doctor including a plastic surgeon, an urgent care doctor or an emergency room physician.
- Cardiologists. The second type of expert we need is a cardiologist. We need somebody to say that, had the patient been referred for treatment, this would have been the treatment, the patient’s prognosis would be x, y, and z and they would have survived.
- Specialists. Sometimes we need a specialist for scans like echocardiograms, EKGs (or electrocardiograms, which record the electrical activity of the heart over time) or stress testing. Sometimes we need a pathologist. Issues come up on autopsy all the time. In addition, we often use other experts that deal with damages such as a legal nurse consultant, an economist and a future life care planner. These cases can require upwards of five, six or seven experts at times.
Failure to Diagnose Stroke
A stroke is the bursting of blood vessels in the brain. Blood then surrounds brain cells. Stroke also occurs when blood supply to the brain is interrupted. Brain cells lack the oxygen and nutrients needed to survive, resulting in brain cell death. Stroke presents as sudden weakness or numbness, confusion, difficulty speaking, difficulty understanding others, vision problems, trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance/coordination, or severe headaches that cannot be explained. Two types of Stroke include blockage of a blood vessel (Ischemic) or bleeding in the brain (Hemorrhagic).
When evaluating a malpractice claim involving a stroke there are a couple of considerations. Number one, was the stroke preventable. Next, was the stroke diagnosed quickly and correctly. Minimizing the effects of stroke requires prompt medical treatment. Stroke prevention involves assessing risk factors associated with stroke, including diabetes, hypertension, heart conditions, and history of prior stroke. Rapid stroke therapy attempts to stop a stroke that is occuring by the dissolving of blood clots or the stopping bleeding. Anticipating and watching for signs of stroke is crucial for the medical staff. Patient records are a good source for determining whether response time was good or not. Our experienced lawyers and medical consultants can help determine if your injuries or those of a loved one could have been prevented.
Call (615) 742-1775 for legal advice on diagnosis errors or click here for a free and confidential case review.