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The Faces of Misdiagnosis

By Grant Law Office on March 4, 2020

Medical misdiagnosis is a real problem in the USA. A total of $4,031,987,700 was paid out in 2018 for medical malpractice claims, as stated by LeverageRx (with $151,932,000 in Georgia alone). As categorized according to malpractice allegation, the largest portion of that astronomical nationwide sum (34.1%) was paid out for medical malpractice involving a misdiagnosis. In the previous year, diagnosis errors also accounted for the largest portion (34%) of the $3,925,073,250 medical malpractice payout total, as reported by Diederich Healthcare.

Misdiagnosis Horror Stories

The following are two individual tales that highlight the rampant problem of misdiagnosis in the U.S.

Brain Swelling Misdiagnosed As Schizophrenia

This story was reported on Health.com. An 18-year-old girl named Olivia Palermo began to notice a twitch in her right pinky finger that evolved into spasms and cramps in her hand. A few days later, she began having trouble speaking and started slurring her words, at which point her mother took her to see the pediatrician. The doctor diagnosed her with anxiety and referred her to a therapist, who gave her exercises to relieve anxiety.

Later, Olivia’s mother took her to a psychiatrist, who prescribed anti-anxiety medication. Olivia developed insomnia and became depressed, and her health continued to deteriorate. The psychiatrist prescribed an antipsychotic medication, which turned Olivia into a “zombie.” She lost 30 pounds, and twitching and spasms spread to her toes, making walking difficult. During one visit with the psychiatrist she mentioned thoughts of suicide, at which point she was immediately taken to a mental hospital. (The conditions were so horrible that her parents had her released shortly thereafter.)

After she blacked out in a restaurant, Olivia’s parents took her to the ER, where the doctors decided she had schizophrenia and put her on suicide watch. Finally, she went to see a neurologist, who ordered a series of diagnostic tests and ultimately diagnosed Olivia with anti-NMDA receptor encephalitis, an autoimmune disease in which the person’s own antibodies attack the NMDA receptors in the brain, causing inflammation and swelling.

At that point, Olivia’s organs were beginning to shut down due to brain swelling, and she was immediately admitted to the hospital, where she received the proper treatment for the correct condition. After receiving the right diagnosis, Olivia was eventually able to recover.

Gallstones Treated As Indigestion

Fiona Tapp writes about living in Hell for five years because of a misdiagnosis in an article on Healthline. Sporadically, she was experiencing a horrible, searing pain in her chest, stomach, and back, followed by bouts of violent vomiting. She saw her general practitioner repeatedly, whose diagnosis was indigestion, and went for a second opinion to another doctor, who prescribed an antacid medication.

Finally, in another visit to her general practitioner, a different doctor evaluated her condition. The new doctor examined Fiona, reviewed her history, ordered blood work and an ultrasound, and diagnosed her with gallstones, which can have life-threatening complications. The doctor ordered surgery to remove Fiona’s gallbladder, and her health problems began to resolve.

Atlanta Medical Malpractice Lawyers

If you have been a victim of misdiagnosis or another type of medical malpractice, you may be entitled to pursue compensation for the harm you have suffered as a result. Contact Grant Law Office at (404) 995-3955 or toll-free at (866) 249-5513. Our Atlanta personal injury attorneys are tough advocates for people injured through medical malpractice.

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