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Houston Medical Malpractice Law Blog

Misdiagnosis linked to up to 80,000 deaths each year

As many as 80,000 people die in Texas and around the country each year and up to 160,000 more suffer harm because of a missed or late health care diagnosis. This was the conclusion reached by researchers from Johns Hopkins Medicine after they studied 11,000 medical malpractice cases. The results of the study were published online in July 2019 in the medical journal Diagnosis.

Almost 70% of the patients who died or were left permanently disabled due to a late or missed diagnosis suffered from cancer, vascular disease or some sort of infection. When researchers studied these malpractice cases more closely, they discovered that the most commonly misdiagnosed conditions were lung cancer, sepsis and strokes. Other conditions that were frequently misdiagnosed were skin, breast and prostate cancer; pneumonia; meningitis; heart attacks and blood clots in the lungs and arms.

The dangerous byproduct of influenza: Sepsis

It's that time of year again -- flu season. Each year, many people suffer from the flu, also called influenza. This highly contagious and aggressive respiratory, viral infection can keep you out of work for days.

However, if you are one of the unlucky ones, you will suffer from its effects much longer than that. As is the case with any infection, your body could end up attacking itself in the form of sepsis, which can quickly become life-threatening.

A common women's health problem that is not well-known

Texas residents are familiar with some common conditions that affect a woman's reproductive system, including polycystic ovary syndrome and endometriosis. However, few people have heard about adenomyosis, which is also referred to as endometriosis of the uterus muscle.

It is important for people to be familiar with the symptoms of this condition, especially medical professionals. One estimate shows that one in 10 women is living with adenomyosis. However, the true number is likely quite higher, especially because some women have the problem but do not have symptoms and there isn't a real diagnostic criteria for adenomyosis.

Military members and the new right to file malpractice claims

A previous post discussed a new federal law that was awaiting the President's signature. Now that the law has been signed, active service members who receive treatment at military facilities will be able to file medical malpractice claims against those facilities in certain circumstances.

As our previous post discussed, the new law weakens an old decision by the United States Supreme Court. Under the old decision, members of the military were generally disallowed from suing military doctors and other medical professionals for malpractice, no matter how flagrant the case may have been.

What could go wrong during or after a C-section?

Not every woman will have a natural birth. A variety of situations may require a Cesarean birth, such as prolonged labor, the baby's distress or some other medical condition that necessitates it. Moreover, some women choose to deliver via C-section after exploring the options with their obstetricians. In fact, no less than one out of every four women undergo a C-section.

If it looks as though you will be one of those women, you need to understand that this is a major surgery, and it does come with some significant risks. If anything goes wrong, you and/or your baby could suffer serious harm.

We may be able to help heart attack and stroke victims

Heart attacks and strokes impact many families in the Houston area every year. In many, if not most, cases, heart attacks and strokes are just part of life, even for those who are younger and who have maintained a healthy lifestyle. Some good news about heart attacks and strokes is that, if a doctor recognizes the warning signs and symptoms early on, many patients will have a good chance of getting the right treatment and surviving the ordeal.

Unfortunately, when emergency room doctors and others do not recognize a heart attack or stroke, the result can be an untimely death or, even if the patient survives, irreversible and serious brain damage. Obviously, such a preventable tragedy puts a great deal of financial and emotional strain on a family.

Military members will likely be able to sue for malpractice

Although it hasn't attracted much national attention, a measure provision that is now awaiting the President's signature could allow, for the first time in decades, active duty military members in Texas and across the nation to sue military doctors for medical malpractice.

Decades ago, the Supreme Court held that those on active duty could not sue their military medical providers for malpractice, seemingly no matter how bad the providers' negligence was.

Delayed diagnoses of breast cancer can lead to litigation

Thankfully, mammograms have enabled doctors in Texas to detect breast cancer early enough to be able to treat it. The end result is that the fatality rate for those diagnosed with breast cancer has declined by 40% thanks to the onset of mammography.

Unfortunately, simply having a mammogram is not enough to prevent breast cancer. A radiologist, a specialized doctor, has to look over the results of the mammogram and interpret them. In other words, it is ultimately that doctor's responsibility to diagnose breast cancer and to do so in a timely fashion.

Sepsis is a possibility if you suffer from intestinal E. coli

Did you know that E. coli is probably on your skin right now? Many forms of these bacteria are harmless, but others could lead to serious illness. For a while, it seemed as though food recalls happened once a week due to the presence of the type of E. coli that could cause an intestinal infection.

Food-borne E. coli outbreaks often result from the enterotoxigenic E. coli (ETEC) bacteria, also referred to as traveler's diarrhea. A severe enough infection could cause you to suffer from another condition called sepsis, in which your immune system begins attacking your body. As you can imagine, sepsis could easily threaten your life and cause lifelong health issues.

What happens if a TIA is misdiagnosed?

A TIA, or transient ischemic attack, is commonly referred to as a pre-stroke or a mini-stroke. While it is not itself a permanent medical condition, the dizziness and headaches it brings on temporarily are a warning sign that a full blown stroke is imminent. A patient who experiences a stroke, which can be compared to a heart attack in the brain, will lose circulation to important parts of the brain, which can lead to severe damage.

As many people in Houston who have loved ones who have experienced a stroke know, paralysis, cognitive difficulties and other serious and life-long symptoms can follow a stroke. In many cases, a stroke can be fatal.

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