Medical malpractice: When WV physicians misdiagnose

Medical misdiagnosis affects a significant number of people and may have life-changing implications on peoples’ lives.

Millions of Americans put their trust in medical professionals every year, and expect to be given a fair and accurate diagnosis for their symptoms. According to a study published in BMJ Quality and Safety journal, at least 12 million Americans, or 5 percent of patients, are misdiagnosed each year. The prevalence of medical misdiagnosis is hard to quantify, however, as many cases go undetected or unreported. While some cases of misdiagnosis in West Virginia may result in minor issues and are not life-threatening, there are some diagnosing errors that lead to serious patient disability and even death.

Factors leading to misdiagnosis

According to JAMA medicine, there are certain factors that commonly lead to misdiagnosis. These include the following:

  • Failing to properly evaluate the patient's medical history
  • Failing to order the right diagnostic tests and evaluate them correctly
  • Practicing under a false license
  • Attempting to diagnose patients with conditions that lie outside of their realm of expertise
  • Neglecting to follow up on patients' test results or symptoms

Some physicians overbook their schedules in order to see more patients and make more money. Doctors who do so often fail to perform comprehensive evaluations and may inadvertently overlook critical details regarding a patient's condition. This can subsequently lead to a wrongful diagnosis.

According to The Washington Post, some medical environments are prone to misdiagnosis, including emergency rooms and after-hours clinics. When patients are seen by doctors who do not know their medical history and have a limited amount of time to spend with each patient, wrongful diagnoses are more likely to occur. Emergency room physicians have frequent interruptions, which can affect the accuracy of a diagnosis as well.

One little girl had to have her legs, left hand and fingers on her right hand amputated, after an ER nurse misdiagnosed the child as having a minor virus, according to a CNN News report. Instead, the child was suffering from an aggressive flesh eating bacteria that spread quickly throughout her body as she waited for medical attention.

Implications of misdiagnosis

When doctors give patients an inaccurate medical diagnosis, there are a number of things that can happen. The patient may be prescribed unnecessary medication that may have negative side effects or may exacerbate the actual condition. In some cases, a misdiagnosis may cause a patient to undergo needless surgery or painful treatment. While the patient is being treated for the wrong condition, the actual condition may have advanced into critical stages.

Obtaining legal counsel

Many people in West Virginia may be affected by medical malpractice from a trusted health professional. If you or someone you love has experienced misdiagnosis or any other type of medical negligence, you may want to contact a personal injury attorney. They can help you explore your legal options and ensure your rights are upheld in court.

Keywords: malpractice, misdiagnosis, injury