Medicine is not a perfect science. Physicians have the difficult job of observing symptoms, talking to patients and using that information to correctly diagnose the problem. Because symptoms often overlap, it can be tough to make a correct diagnosis quickly and on the first try.
That being said, there are certain medical emergencies where mistakes and delays are not an option. Many of these are conditions that put extreme stress on the heart or the brain. Failure to diagnose correctly and quickly can be fatal to someone suffering from a heart attack, for instance. While it didn't occur here in Oregon, a recent medical malpractice lawsuit demonstrates just how disastrous mistakes can be when time is of the essence.
The case occurred in Texas, and involved a mother in her early 30s. According to the lawsuit, the woman suffered a seizure one day in December 2013 and was taken by ambulance to the hospital. After a CT scan, physicians diagnosed the woman with a work-related, stress-induced migraine and a sinus infection.
She was sent home but suffered another seizure later that day. While being rushed by ambulance yet again, she suffered a third seizure that ultimately resulted in brain death.
The woman's husband alleges that the CT scan clearly showed bleeding in her brain, and that her death was the result of a serious misdiagnosis. The attorney representing the woman's family added that missing such an obvious symptom suggests that no one on the hospital staff even looked at the CT scan.
The plaintiff, who is now a single parent to their two young children, is suing the hospital for more than $1 million in damages for multiple alleged errors leading to his wife's death.
Even the most well-trained physicians can and do make mistakes. But to allegedly miss something obvious and life-threatening is simply unacceptable.