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Misdiagnosis Of Congestive Heart Failure – $2.8 Million Settlement
Complaining of chest tightness, shortness of breath and excessive coughing, our client consulted with a doctor who incorrectly diagnosed his condition as pneumonia despite the strong possibility that the man had already suffered or was about to suffer a heart attack. Upon later review of diagnostic tests including x-rays, it was determined that our client did not in fact have pneumonia, but instead had congestive heart failure. A lawsuit was filed contending that the doctor misdiagnosed his condition and failed to properly convey to the man the importance of being admitted to a hospital immediately for treatment for his very serious condition.
Then just two days later, our client was brought to the hospital with wheezing, sweating, and “crushing” chest pains. He died later that day. A lawsuit was filed. Although attempts were made to arrive at a fair settlement, the doctor’s insurance company refused to offer a fair settlement for this man’s death. So rather than accept anything less than complete justice, a trial was held and the doctor was found liable for the man’s death. The jury then returned a verdict awarding $2,800,000 to the man’s surviving family members. Although lawyers for the doctor appealed the verdict, the Illinois Appellate Court agreed that the jury was correct and upheld the verdict of $2,800,000.00.
About Misdiagnosis Generally
According to a recent study, about 12 million people are misdiagnosed each year in outpatient settings alone (not counting hospital settings). That’s obviously a tremendously large number.
We all know that doctors are generally highly skilled professionals with years of training about how to recognize specific diseases and illnesses. We rely on them make accurate judgements about our medical issues and then to take the appropriate steps to alleviate or minimize our problems. But what good is this knowledge if the ailment is not correctly determined in the first place? The answer of course, if none.
Sometimes a misdiagnosis is relatively harmless, such as when the illness is minor or even when the problem is serious but is caught and properly diagnosed before additional harm occurs. Other times, because the proper course of treatment is not being pursued, the error may allow a disease to progress out of control to the point when it can no longer be effectively treated. This can lead to permanent injury or an early and wrongful death.
Common Subjects of Misdiagnosis Lawsuits
In addition to the misdiagnosis of congestive heart failure as pneumonia, as in our verdict described above, other conditions often tend to be misdiagnosed, including:
- Heart attack as a panic attack or indigestion
- Breast cancer as non-cancerous cyst or collection of liquid
- Colorectal cancer as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
- Pancreatic cancer as diabetes or gallstones
- Lung cancer as bronchitis or respiratory infection
- Stroke as a migraine or headache
Ultimately, the doctor must comply with the standard of care for other such doctors by recognizing the symptoms presented and then ordering the appropriate testing. In cases where the medical professional fails to properly screen for the likely condition, misinterprets lab results, or fails to consult with a specialist in the particular area, and the patient is harmed as a result, medical malpractice has occurred. If you believe that you or a loved one has been injured through a doctor’s misdiagnosis, you can contact Mitchell S. Sexner & Associates LLC at 800-996-4824 for free information and guidance.