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Illinois Misdiagnosis Can Be Life-Threatening

The Chicago personal injury lawyers at Levin & Perconti were pleased to see that yesterday the State Journal Register included a front-page story that draws attention to the often devastating consequences of Illinois medical malpractice involving misdiagnosis.

One patient’s story was highlighted revealing how the mistaken assumption that she had a fatal mix of problems almost led to her untimely death. The victim was brought to a local hospital after she fell in her home and broke her leg. She eventually developed shortness of breath. An X-ray revealed that lung cancer may have caused her problem. One of the doctors noted that a colon obstruction may be involved, but that suggestion was ignored. Instead, the team of physicians concluded that there was nothing that could be done for the woman. She was put on “comfort care” and her loved ones were told she would be unlikely to survive to the morning.

However, the woman did survive that morning. That day an oncologist happened upon the woman’s records and discovered that her lung cancer seems to be at an early, treatable stage. This oncologist insisted that the woman have a colonoscopy performed because the lack of advanced cancer meant that an alternative condition likely existed. Her previous team of doctors again repeated that the test was futile, but after much contentious debate, the exam proceeded. However, the doctor who performed the colonoscopy refuses to take one final step and suck out excess gas. Eventually, the oncologist who had insisted on the alternative course of treatment was able to get a nurse to remove the gas-a step which led to an almost immediate improvement in the woman’s condition. The victim was eventually able to return home. However, the toll of the situation and removal of oxygen for 24 hours may have caused her some slight brain damage.

Unfortunately, the victim in this case is lucky to be alive, because only rarely are the decisions made by doctor’s given a second look. Patients in similar situations are likely to pass away because of the misdiagnosis.

The fact that doctors so rarely receive feedback on their diagnosis means that they often become overconfident. One of the nation’s leading experts on diagnostic errors explains that doctors “get it right so often that they don’t really appreciate that they get it wrong. And they just take it for granted that everything they’re doing is OK.”

An Illinois personal injury lawyer knows that medical misdiagnosis (or delayed diagnosis) often takes the life of area residents. We have represented clients in cases such as this and have seen firsthand the effects these mistakes can have not only on victims, but entire families. Improvements can only be made when mistakes are brought forward and analyzed. We urge all residents to share their story and help improve the system for everyone.

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