Medical misdiagnosis is when medical practitioners either diagnosis erroneously or misjudge the severity of a condition. Misdiagnosis causes delayed treatment and can lead to the progression of the disease or even death.
Medical misdiagnosis is alarmingly common. According to an article published by NBC News, over 120,000 Americans die every year due to misdiagnoses, which is a big reason why so many professionals go to school to become wrongful death lawyers. Certain diseases have symptoms that mimic other diseases and are much more difficult to diagnose, which can result in death.
Below is a list of three common injuries that lead to a medical misdiagnosis.
1. Achilles Tendon Rupture
The Achilles tendon connects two calf muscles to the heel bone. The position of this tendon makes it a prime location for trauma-induced ruptures. An Achilles tendon rupture is the most common type of tendon rupture.
Symptoms of a rupture include slight pain in the vicinity of the muscle just above the heel. These symptoms are similar to a spraining or straining of the calf. Calf sprains will heal by themselves over time, but an Achilles tendon rupture will not improve and may even grow worse.
Sometimes, a clicking or popping noise can be heard; this sound is a hallmark diagnostic characteristic. When this characteristic goes unnoticed by physicians, it is commonly misdiagnosed and it will not improve without proper treatment.
2. Stress Fracture
Stress fractures are tiny breaks in the bone. They are caused by long-term stress on the bones. Excessive use of the bone over time will cause slight breaks.
Sports like tennis, basketball, and track may cause these injuries. Usually a stress fracture occurs in the lower end of the body, such as the legs and feet. The symptoms include moderate to severe pain, swelling, tenderness, or bruising.
Tendinitis and strains exhibit symptoms like stress fractures and are often mistaken for them. The only way for this condition to improve is for a physician to reset the bone. Surgery may also be involved. Without proper treatment, the stress fracture may develop into a more sever, chronic problem.
3. Scaphoid Fracture
The scaphoid is one of several carpel bones in the wrist. The bone has a small diameter and is underneath the thumb. The scaphoid is in a vulnerable position and is the most commonly broken bone in the wrist.
An injury to the scaphoid is concerning because it underlines a strong blood supply to the hand. Gymnasts, cheerleaders, and other athletes who regularly use their wrists are at high risk for scaphoid fractures.
When injured, this bone can interfere with blood flow, so correctly diagnosing a scaphoid fracture is important. Additionally, it can progress into a more severe condition known as avascular necrosis. The symptoms of a scaphoid fracture resemble that of a common sprain.
Usually the break is accompanied by bruises, pain, and loss of function. Treatment for scaphoid fractures is unlike that of sprains. A scaphoid fracture usually requires a cast and may necessitate a resetting surgery. A medical misdiagnosis is a major problem because it will not improve on its own—treatment is required for improvement.
Patients who have had a primary physician overlook the fracture, or who were not properly treated for the fracture, and later suffered from avascular necrosis may find relief from a medical malpractice attorney.