A family in Georgia is appealing the decision that favored the local hospital that misdiagnosed a hematoma as a simple scalp contusion.
According to court documents published by FOX 31, six-month-old Keira Pech suffered a large bump after falling off her bed in 2007. She was taken to Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital in Albany, GA, only to be discharged with a “minor injury”; however, three days later, the parents found out that her contusion was anything but—Keira had a serious subdural hematoma.
By the time Keira received proper medical attention, it was too late. By the age of three, she was suffering from daily seizures and motor and speech impairment. The lower court initially ruled in favor of Keira, but an appeal made by the defendants to the state Court of Appeals reversed the decision. The case is now going to the state’s high court.
Between Two Hard Places
Many doctors have it hard when it comes to misdiagnosis. A 2014 study led by Hardeep Singh, associate professor at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, found that more or less five percent of cases get the wrong diagnosis. The figure might seem insignificant, but Singh says this translates to over 12 million people in the country.
You don’t need to learn about Georgia’s laws to know how misdiagnosis cases work. Generally, it’s the same for every state, including New York. Even if doctors and medical staff completely miss an inconspicuous disease with obvious symptoms, they have a duty to exercise the proper standard of care. This means more than simply hiring more staff and investing in state-of-the-art equipment. It means utilizing manpower and equipment for the full benefit and safety of the patient.
Hospitals, according to Singh, should prioritize on adequate care before pushing pencils on the insurance paperwork. This can be done by improving communication between physicians and patients. If a medical practitioner failed to thoroughly assess a patient based on set standards and provided a wrong diagnosis, he or she may be held liable.
Take note that not all subsequent complications can be grounds for medical malpractice. Any belief of shortcomings on the healthcare provider’s part should be taken with an experienced Brooklyn medical malpractice lawyer at an established firm like The Law Offices of Joseph Lichtenstein. Misdiagnosis isn’t exclusive to trauma though, it could happen to every known medical condition.
Fact finding is an essential skill for Brooklyn medical malpractice attorneys. Aside from medical staff who tended to the patient, lawyers will also gather information from third-party experts for a complete picture of the scenario. If it can be determined that the medical staff fell short of the expected level or standard of care, your lawsuit will have solid ground to stand on.
Dougherty case going before Georgia Supreme Court, FOX 31, May 6, 2015
The Battle Against Misdiagnosis, The Wall Street Journal, August 7, 2014