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Errors in Diagnosis

Errors in diagnosis are seen in cases of failure to timely diagnose cancer, heart disease, and in failure to diagnose emergent conditions in ER’s. They are also seen with ongoing disease processes. Too often patients will go to their doctor with obvious signs and symptoms of a disease process and the doctor fails to put the pieces together and make the diagnosis.

Examples include cases of infections that are misdiagnosed and go on to worsen into sepsis (an overwhelming infection of the entire bloodstream); failure to diagnose benign tumors that go one to involve and injure other parts of a person’s body; abnormal laboratory values that are ignored or overlooked; abnormal x-rays or CT’s that are not responded to; and diseases that are undiagnosed and untreated.

An example of a case involving an error in diagnosis that was handled by the attorneys at Kelley/Uustal is the case of a lady who felt a lump on her breast. She had a biopsy performed (a piece of the lump was removed for testing), and was told it was a very aggressive cancer and that she would need to have both her breasts removed. After removing the woman’s breasts, the hospital was unable to find cancer in them. They took almost 100 samples from her tissue and looked at them under the microscope, but they were all normal. They told the lady that they must have gotten all the cancer out when they did the biopsy.

The lady consulted with us because she thought there was a delay in diagnosing her cancer. We reviewed the medical records and suspected something different had happened. We had the original biopsy slide DNA tested and compared with the woman’s DNA. They were not the same – the lab had switched the slides! The woman was told she had cancer when she didn’t, and another lady who had cancer was told her biopsy was normal. One woman had both of her breasts removed for nothing, and another woman had an aggressive cancer left in her body because of a laboratory technician’s mistake. A confidential settlement was reached.