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Hurley McKenna & Mertz, P.C.

Medical Malpractice Lawyer Receives Misdiagnosis

Posted on in Personal Injury

b2ap3_thumbnail_MRI-Image.jpgAs recently discussed in The Boston Globe, new research confirms the deadly toll of medical errors in the United States.  After heart disease and cancer, mistakes by medical providers are the third-leading cause of death in the US, claiming over 251,000 lives every year, according to a study published in 2016 in the journal BMJ.

While hospitals have taken steps to try to reduce mistakes, physician failure to diagnose conditions, misdiagnosis of conditions, miscommunication and the failure to accurately communicate test results continue to result in needless suffering and death of patients in America.  The risk of mistakes is greatest in situations where the physician never meets the patient and doesn’t know the patient. 

Victims of medical mistakes can include physician patients—HM&M represents several physicians injured due to medical malpractice – as well as lawyers who know about what can go wrong in a hospital.  One such victim is our friend Michael Mone of Boston, a top trial lawyer who has spent his life representing victims of medical malpractice. 

In the summer of 2015, Michael complained of pain in his back and leg while at a law conference.  At first he thought the pain was from a minor injury, but when the pain persisted he called a physician friend who recommended that Michael undergo an MRI.  The MRI result was devastating—it showed that Michael had a metastatic tumor of the spine, which had spread from a tumor of the kidney. 

Michael remembered that in 2009 he had undergone an MRI of the kidneys which physicians at that time reported to Michael as being “normal.”  When new physicians in 2015 reviewed the 2009 kidney MRI, they saw clearly that it was not “normal”—it showed a malignant growth in the kidney.  Michael’s cancer could have been treated successfully if the physicians had properly read the 2009 MRI and diagnosed his kidney growth.  Instead, allowed to grow and spread without treatment for 6 years, Michael’s cancer was untreatable and terminal.  He was a clear victim of medical malpractice.

At first Michael resisted pursuing a lawsuit.  He wasn’t in need of money and he didn’t want to spend whatever time he had left fighting in court.  However, he decided to file a medical malpractice claim because he felt that it was important for the negligent physicians and the hospital that failed to diagnose his cancer in 2009 to know they had made a grave error, and hopefully lead them to change their procedures.

According to the United States Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, the best way you can help to prevent medical errors is to be an active member of your health care team—take part in every decision about your health care. Research shows that patients who are more involved with their care tend to get better results.

  • When your doctor writes a prescription for you, make sure you can read it--if you cannot read your doctor's handwriting, your pharmacist might not be able to either.

  • If you are in a hospital, ask all health care workers who will touch you whether they have washed their hands – hand-washing can prevent the spread of infections in hospitals.

  • When you are being discharged from the hospital, ask your doctor to explain in detail the treatment plan you will follow at home.

  • If you are having surgery, make sure that you, your primary care doctor, and your surgeon all agree on exactly what will be done.

  • Never be afraid to speak up if you have questions or concerns – you have a right to question anyone who is involved with your care.

  • If you have a medical test, do not assume that no news is good news – ask how and when you will get the results, and demand to see the final results when they are available.

 

 

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