By its very nature—a place where sick or injured people gather—an emergency room is sometimes a frightening place. However, this is where Denver residents must go when urgent treatment or care is necessary. Despite the fear, most people trust the emergency room staff to assess their unique situation quickly and prescribe the right treatment. However, medical malpractice can and does occur in an emergency room setting.
People in Colorado may be interested in a recent case in which a large medical concierge firm was found to be liable for the malpractice of one of its doctors. A jury returned an $8.5 million verdict against the company following a trial in Palm Beach County, Florida.
Many doctors in Colorado treat patients appropriately, providing them with proper care. Occasionally, however, physicians make mistakes that might cause harm and financial distress to the patient. When that happens, it may be necessary to evaluate the doctor's diagnosis and treatment choices.
A recent article, which details the case of a man who may have contracted Lyme disease in Spain and was allegedly misdiagnosed when he returned to the United States, may be of interest to readers in Colorado. The issue appears to be that the Lyme disease test used in the U.S. only looks for a common variety of tick known as Borrelia burgorferi, so doctors said it must be some other illness.
When an individual living in Colorado or elsewhere goes to a doctor, he or she is more likely to receive an incorrect diagnosis than be the victim of a surgical or a medication error. This is based on a study done by Johns Hopkins University and published in the BMJ Quality and Safety journal; it showed that in the last 25 years, misdiagnosis was the most common error made by medical professionals. Incorrect or delayed diagnosis caused more patient harm than than medication errors or surgical mistakes based on the number of claims filed and penalty payouts.Researchers took data from the National Practitioner Data Bank and their findings are based on over 350,000 medical malpractice claims that had payouts. Of these claims, over 28 percent were due to misdiagnosis. The mistakes listed in these claims were also those most likely to end up causing disability or the death of a patient. Based on this information, researchers have extrapolated that between 80,000 to 160,000 individuals have been harmed by a wrong or late diagnosis.
Pulmonary embolism and myocardial infarction are two potentially fatal medical issues that are missed in nearly 8 percent of adult patients admitted to the ICU, according to findings in 31 autopsy-based studies. The doctor at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine who led the research feels the findings may even underestimate the actual rate of potential medical malpractice since the study does not include misdiagnoses that did not result in the patient's death.The Goldman Classification, with its four classes of criteria to define errors, was used in this study. A class 1 error is defined as a missed major misdiagnosis that is potentially fatal and would have led to different management of the patient; this serious error accounted for approximately 8 percent of ICU fatalities in the study, and class II errors, defined as missed major diagnoses that were not potentially fatal, accounted for nearly 15 percent of cases. Class III errors denote misdiagnoses related to an underlying terminal, but not moribund, condition. Misdiagnoses unrelated to disease or death comprise the class IV category.
Colorado residents may be interested in a recent medical malpractice case in which a radiologist was ruled at fault in a misdiagnosis that resulted in a stroke that left a woman partially disabled. Her family was awarded $5 million in a verdict against the doctor.The radiologist was working for a diagnostic imaging center in August of 2007 when a woman came to the emergency room with a severe headache that had lasted for some time. She was given a CT scan which was read by the radiologist. The radiologist stated that she found no significant issues from the CT scan. The woman was eventually transferred to another hospital when her symptoms did not improve, and there she was diagnosed with intracranial hemorrhaging. Upon examining the original CT scan, doctors at the second hospital concluded that the scans showed significant problems, and that if the woman had been treated then, much of the damage she sustained would have been prevented.
A failure to diagnose the real cause of a 7-year-old's fever could have led to a deadly scenario. Instead, a persistent doctor identified the first case of bubonic plague to appear in Colorado in more than six years.The girl's parents were convinced that she had more than the flu, but when her fever reached 107 degrees, a sharp emergency room physician insisted that she be airlifted to a children's hospital in Denver where her condition was finally identified. It is believed she contracted the bacteria while trying to bury a squirrel on a family camping trip.