Woman cautions patients about the possibility of a misdiagnosis

Quality health care is something that is regularly discussed in Chicago and throughout the rest of the United States. Americans trust that when they step into a doctor’s office, hospital room or medical center, they will receive the best medical attention as possible.

Part of keeping this quality of care intact is clear communication amongst medical professionals. Without clear communication, doctors are prone to misdiagnose patients, or even fail to diagnose one’s conditions all together. A wrong diagnosis or delayed diagnosis can be dangerous because patients could go a prolonged period of time without receiving the proper medical treatment they may need, allowing their ailments to spiral out of control.

This is a sad tale that a female cancer patient is telling in order to caution others about the perils of a misdiagnosis. She first approached doctors about her pain and fatigue in 2007, but it took years before they were able to finally pinpoint the problem, one that she is currently dying from.

After her initial visit to a doctor, the woman made over 50 other visits to doctors and specialists. What turned out to be cancer was initially detected in 2008, but the disease was not treated immediately due to improper communication amongst medical professionals. An MRI in 2008 turned up problematic signs common to cancer within her vertebrae. But a biopsy was never scheduled because a radiologist that administered a bone scan chalked her pain up to degenerative arthritis.

The woman’s primary doctor assumed she did not have cancer since the other specialists did not indicate so. Doctors even failed to diagnose the problem when she went to the emergency room twice in 2010 in unbearable pain. Doctors injected her with a drug and told her to get rest and exercise.

Once doctors realized the pain was caused by tumors following a November 2010 MRI, it was far too late. The cancer had spread throughout her spine and pelvis.

Sadly, this is a tragic situation that could have easily been avoided had doctors communicated effectively with each other and with the patient regarding her concerning symptoms. Although cancer cannot always be treated effectively, doctors and patients can work together to make sure that the disease is diagnosed in a timely manner to try different forms of treatment that could be effective and could prevent the disease from progressing.

Source: The News & Observer, “The pain of a missed diagnosis,” Karen Holliman, April 10, 2012