When a misdiagnosis leads to incorrect or delayed treatment—or no treatment at all—a patient’s condition can worsen or even lead to death.  Recently, a Florida woman (aged 68) was misdiagnosed with an aggressive form of cancer and underwent highly invasive surgery that changed her quality of life. Berkowitz and Hanna LLC, which specializes in cases involving malpractice and misdiagnosis, has seen this before. In fact, roughly 12% of cancer patients are initially misdiagnosed.

The Florida case began when the results of the plaintiff’s colonoscopy were mixed up with another patient and so under the anonymous name of “Jane Doe,” she is suing the hospital for misdiagnosis.  After being told that she was in the advanced stages of cancer, “Jane Doe” from Orlando, Florida, thought she was dying.  She endured highly invasive surgery at Florida Hospital Winter Park.  She later found out that the mishap occurred when the tissue sample taken from her colonoscopy was mislabeled. This could have transpired either at the hospital or at the external laboratory.

When she found out that she was cancer-free and that she had, in fact, always been cancer-free, “Jane Doe” requested her medical records—which should have documented the mix-up.  When the hospital was not forthcoming, they violated Federal and State laws.  These records are needed in order to determine whether there is a viable medical negligence claim.

Unfortunately, Jane Doe’s pending lawsuit is one of many such cases.  The sobering fact is that now—particularly as the Baby Boomer generation ages and begins to flood the medical system—the problem of medical misdiagnoses may actually be on the rise.

Photo by Kathea Pinto via flickr.com