Once upon a time, a doctor-patient relationship was the foundation of medical diagnosis. After the doctor learned about the patient’s symptoms, the doctor formulated a diagnosis.
That is no longer the case. The average doctor only listens to a patient for about eleven seconds. It’s almost impossible to obtain any meaningful information during such a brief interaction.
As a result, doctors are unable to immediately diagnose many conditions. The patient gets worse while the condition goes untreated, or in other cases, doctors suggest improper treatments that make the situation deteriorate.
Damages in a delayed diagnosis matter often include money for economic losses, such as medical bills, and noneconomic losses, such as pain and suffering. Additional punitive damages are often available as well.
This condition is basically a gluten allergy. Yet only about half of people who suffer from celiac disease have classic symptoms, like weight loss and diarrhea after eating a grain-heavy diet. Many other people have nonspecific symptoms, like joint pain. Therefore, the average patient contends with celiac disease for several years before doctors finally get it right.
This autoimmune disorder is different from osteoarthritis, which is the “wear and tear” arthritis that many people develop as they age. But doctors often assume that they are the same condition, mostly because they have basically the same symptoms. Yet if a physician treats the wrong kind of arthritis, the patient will show no improvement whatsoever.
For many doctors, cancer is a lifestyle or a family history disease. Lung cancer is a good example. Doctors hardly ever diagnose non-smokers with lung cancer. But environmental toxins, like asbestos, also cause lung cancer. As a result, the doctor often says the patient has bronchitis or something less serious. In the meantime, the cancer grows and spreads.
Similarly, many doctors believe that only older people have strokes. When a younger patient displays classic stroke symptoms, doctors may dismiss the issues as simple alcohol intoxication. But the lack of oxygen to the brain has significant consequences for the rest of the body. If stroke patients do not get needed treatment, things quickly get worse. 51-year-old actor Luke Perry recently passed away after a stroke, and his untimely death may change physician attitudes. We shall see.
Diagnosis issues are common among heart attack victims as well. This time, just as with celiac disease, a problem is lack of signature symptoms. Many people, especially women, do not have severe chest pains after a heart attack. So, doctors may treat them for something else. As a result, they are greatly at risk for another, and much more serious, heart attack.
Polycystic ovary syndrome is a very common condition among women of reproductive age. The enlarged ovaries develop cysts. But not every woman with enlarged ovaries has PCOS, and not every woman with PCOS has enlarged ovaries. These disconnects are especially common among women with certain ethnic backgrounds, such as Asian and Northern European.
An underactive thyroid triggers symptoms like weight gain and fatigue. It’s easy for doctors to dismiss these symptoms as the effects of age, especially since hypothyroidism is especially common among women over 60. But there is also a very easy fix for this hormonal imbalance. So, many of these individuals suffer needlessly, simply because the doctor did not properly identify their illness.
Contact Tenacious Attorneys
Delayed diagnosis often causes serious illnesses to get worse. For a free consultation with an experienced Brandon medical malpractice lawyer, contact Reed & Reed, Attorneys at Law. We have four area offices (St. Petersburg, Lakeland, Tampa, and Clearwater).