A missed diagnosis is one of the most common forms of medical mistakes made by doctors and other health care providers, accounting for a substantial number of Indiana medical malpractice lawsuits. One study published in the journal BMJ Quality & Safety revealed that nearly 12 million adults seeking outpatient medical care are misdiagnosed, which works out to about 1 in every 20 adult patients. Roughly half of those have the potential to result in serious harm.
Recently in Indiana, a federal jury awarded $15 million to a woman (and her husband) who claimed a radiologist and imaging center were negligent in failing to identify a tumor for a full 18 months, resulting in a substantial reduction in her survival chances. Following a four-day verdict, jurors in the case of Webster v. CDI Indiana, LLC, before the U.S. District Court Southern District of Indiana Indianapolis Division, jurors found the diagnostic center was liable for the conduct of the doctor who didn’t find the tumor in a CT scan she underwent in late 2014. The tumor was ultimately discovered in 2016 – more than a-year-and-a-half later.
The initial question in these medical malpractice lawsuits isn’t necessarily whether doctors or other health care providers got it wrong or even how severely you were hurt. The issue is whether those actions met or fell short of the applicable standard of care, given provider’s specialty, education, resources and region. Jurors were asked to consider whether a similarly-situated, prudent provider would have responded the same in similar or identical circumstances. Here, jurors determined the doctor’s actions fell below the applicable standard of care, reducing plaintiff’s chance of survival, her options for treatment and inflicting serious physical pain and emotional suffering.
Defendant clinic in this case refused to accept liability when the claim was first filed, arguing that as a corporation it didn’t run the center and shouldn’t be considered a medical provider. Rather, defense lawyers argued, this was a company that provided management services to the diagnostic center. However, the corporation’s stance on this point actually put it at a disadvantage because medical providers who opt in to the protections of the Indiana Medical Malpractice Act have their damages for any singular lawsuit capped at $1.25 million. Now, they’ll be paying 12 times that amount.
A spokesman for the company issued a statement indicating it is strongly considering its options for appealing the verdict.
Plaintiff, meanwhile, is currently undergoing intense chemotherapy treatment, but even still, with a form of stage 4 cancer, she has only a 10 percent survival rate from the five-year date of her diagnosis.
So serious are these issues that in another study by The BMJ, medical errors came in third highest as the cause of death in the U.S., accounting for an estimated 250,000 lives lost each year. Many of those cases are never reported, often because surviving family members may not even realize what’s happened. The study authors, surgeons and professors with the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, say they concluded that nearly 10 percent of all deaths in this country are the result of some medical mistake, including missed diagnosis. They may also include administering the wrong dose of medicine, negligent care due to a communication breakdown or misdiagnosis.
Even so, “medical error” is not an option listed as a code on death certificates, which makes them difficult to track – and therefore challenging to address. An experienced medical malpractice attorney in Gary, IN can be invaluable.
Indiana Injury Attorney Burton A. Padove handles personal injury claims throughout northern Indiana, including Highland, Gary and Hammond. Call Toll Free 877-446-5294.
Medical Errors Are the Third Leading Cause of Death: Study, May 3, 2016, By Mary Oaklander, TIME
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