Patients are not expected to need advanced medical degrees just to make sure they are being correctly evaluated – that is what doctors are supposed to do. Unfortunately, some Pennsylvania doctors overlook worrying symptoms, ignore test results or skip over certain evaluations. One neurologist recently recounted in The Washington Post his experience with his own missed diagnosis and what might have happened to him if he had not known better.
Disturbing emergency room experience
Following a 15-mile bike ride, the 78-year-old medical professional developed numbness, pain and tingling that radiated from his neck and down his arms. Suspecting a possible compression in his spinal cord or root as well as cervical spine disease, he sought care at an emergency room. The attending spinal consultant apparently only performed certain tests when pushed to do so and lacked the equipment to correctly perform reflex exams. The hospital ultimately discharged the man after six hours and told him to go to a spinal surgeon after two weeks.
Misdiagnosis and failure to diagnose serious medical conditions
The neurologist did not confirm the severity of his own condition until he accessed his medical records two days after the initial visit. His MRI showed that he had an abscess behind his spinal canal – which the hospital had misdiagnosed as a blood clot – and that blood tests showed he had an active infection. During the emergency room visit, no one had told him about the obviously abnormal and potentially dangerous blood test results.
Seeking care at a different hospital, he was immediately given surgery and intravenous antibiotics to address the infection and spinal injury. Without treatment, he would have likely become quadriplegic and lost the ability to breathe on his own.
While this neurologist was able to narrowly escape a tragic outcome from a missed diagnosis, he should not have had to evaluate his own results and rush to seek care elsewhere. This is something that most patients in Pennsylvania simply do not have the ability to do. Sadly, the aftermath of a missed diagnosis is usually much different for the average person seeking medical care.
Medical malpractice lawsuits give Pennsylvania victims the opportunity to seek justice and compensation after injury from physician negligence or failure to adhere to accepted medical treatment standards.