Hospital Nightmares: When A Misdiagnosis Turns Fatal
When hospitals overwork doctors and require them to take on too many patients, mistakes can happen. Misdiagnosing patients is a common mistake that can have fatal consequences. A hypothetical situation can show how misdiagnosing patients can create disaster scenarios.
Ted is a 45-year-old father of three and a business owner who works in real estate. However, Ted has been experiencing severe headaches for the last three days, and no amount of ibuprofen seems to be working. After getting off work one day, Ted schedules an appointment with his primary care physician and in the meantime heads to the local emergency room.
After a two hour wait in the emergency room, the doctor is finally ready to help Ted resolve his headache issue. An obviously tired and uninterested doctor walks in and looks at Ted. After ten minutes of tests and talking, he determines Ted has a migraine and sends him home with a prescription for Tylenol-3. The next morning, Ted’s wife wakes up to find he had died in his sleep. An autopsy determines Ted died of a brain aneurysm.
How Often Do Doctors Misdiagnose Patients?
Even though our story is fictional, similar scenarios unfold in hospitals across the country every year. In a study published in the journal BMJ Quality & Safety, it was suggested that 12 million Americans are misdiagnosed every year. Although not all of these events are fatal, they can lead to injuries and death.
In a 2009 report by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, it was discovered 28 percent of 583 misdiagnoses reported by doctors could have potentially been fatal. In our hypothetical scenario, a father or three and successful businessperson has left behind family members who will be forced to pick up the pieces due to the negligence of hospital policies. As much as we wish these mistakes did not happen, they do. In this case, surviving family members may be able to sue for damages.
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