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Late diagnosis of advanced lung cancer blamed on MRI of wrong leg

Sometimes making a mistake can cause serious consequences. And if other actions are then based on the mistake, the consequences can continue to grow even more serious. When that medical mistake is a medical diagnosis, the results can be devastating or even deadly.   

Once a medical decision is made a course of treatment is then prescribed based upon the diagnosis. If the diagnosis is wrong, the likelihood is that the treatment may be wrong.  Wrong could mean anything from inadequate medication for the condition to prescribing a drug with fatal results. One recent case of a misdiagnosis for an Ohio woman progressed from a painful knee to lung cancer with only a 30 percent survival rate.

The patient began to have pain in her left knee and her range of motion decreased. She was a runner, so she went to an orthopedic clinic for treatment. An X-ray showed an abnormality that could have been a sign of cancer, so the doctor followed up with an MRI.

Unfortunately the doctor's order contained instructions for an MRI of the patient's right knee which revealed no problems of further concern. The woman later saw another doctor, in the same practice but in another city, who relied on the incorrect MRI throughout her treatment there.

Several months later the woman sought a third opinion from another doctor. After reviewing the abnormal X-ray, she was eventually referred to an oncologist who diagnosed osteosarcoma of her left knee. In the months since the original diagnosis, the cancer had spread, resulting in a diagnosis of Stage III lung cancer. The delay caused the woman's survival odds to drop from 70 to 30 percent.

As in many medical malpractice cases, the woman has suffered periods of pain and invasive procedures. These results in and of themselves can often result in a favorable verdict for the patient. But an end result of a decreased life expectancy is also grounds for a medical malpractice lawsuit. Unfortunately, the discovery of a failure to diagnose a condition can often come too late to totally rectify its consequences.

Source: The Lima News, "Coldwater woman files medical malpractice lawsuit," Greg Sowinski, July 22, 2104

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