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Can a Medical Misdiagnosis Cause Death Hours Later?

Posted By Regan Zambri Long, PLLC || 9-Jan-2018

Diagnostic errors are the most common medical mistake in the US. These errors might result in little to no harm to patients. However, there are cases where a patient has a life-threatening condition that gets misdiagnosed with something less serious. For instance, a patient suffering from bacterial meningitis must receive an accurate diagnosis and prompt treatment to have chance at surviving.

Meningitis is an inflammation of the membranes that surround the brain and spinal cord. Multiple factors can cause meningitis, but a bacterial infection is one of the deadliest and most feared. A patient with this condition may enter a hospital with flu-like symptoms. Emergency physicians could be fooled by the early symptoms of meningitis. If a patient with bacterial meningitis is discharged without treatment, they could die within hours. This is the exact scenario that led to the death of a 4-year-old girl in Texas.

According to the parents of the girl, they brought their daughter to an emergency room because she was suffering from a fever, vomiting and diarrhea. These symptoms appeared within 24 hours. Clinicians ordered lab work and took the girl’s vitals. She was discharged shortly afterwards. Only five hours after returning home, the girl’s condition had become significantly worse. She was rushed back to the emergency room, but it was too late to save her life. An autopsy found the cause of death was bacterial meningitis.

Survivors of bacterial meningitis may suffer from brain damage. Children who survive the condition with brain damage may require specialized care for the rest of their lives. Death or permanent injury can occur within hours. There is no room for error when it comes to diagnosing and treating meningitis.

There are other health conditions that require prompt treatment to prevent death within hours. Heart attacks may cause death or permanent injury within hours if they are misdiagnosed.

Are Diagnostic Errors Medical Malpractice?

Diagnostic errors could be medical malpractice. Patients who survive these medical mistakes or their family members may have recourse to seek damages. If you or a loved one were affected by a diagnostic error, then the Washington DC medical malpractice lawyers at Regan Zambri Long PLLC could help you determine whether you have options to file a claim for damages.

Categories: Medical Malpractice
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