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Missed cancer diagnosis causes man to lose voice box

Patients who live in Massachusetts may be interested in a case involving a misdiagnosis in another state. One man was told on multiple occasions that the pain in his throat was not due to cancer but was caused by acid reflux. Seven months later, a resident tried a simple procedure that led him to discover that the man had a tumor the size of a peach pit. The man was required to undergo surgery to have the tumor removed and now cannot speak at conversational levels. Had the misdiagnosis not occurred, it may have been possible save the man's voice.

These stories are unfortunately not rare. Experts believe that misdiagnosis occurs in between 10 and 20 percent of cases. Mistakes like these are far more common than drug mistakes or errors during surgery, but receive less attention.

Errors in diagnosing a patient can have serious consequences. According to one study, nearly 30 percent of 583 diagnostic mistakes resulted in death or permanent disability to the patient or were life-threatening errors.

When a doctor makes a mistake in failing to diagnose or treat a condition and that mistake causes a patient's condition to worsen, the person may be entitled to damages. Medical malpractice cases can be technical and complicated, so a local personal injury attorney may be able to help ensure that all of the legal requirements for filing suit are met. An attorney can often help clients find an expert medical witness who can testify at trial as to what the physician did to cause the injury. A patient in this situation may be entitled to recover compensation for any medical bills incurred to fix the problem, lost wages, compensation for any permanent disability suffered and pain and suffering.

Source: The Record, "Misdiagnosis more common than drug errors or wrong-site surgery", Sandra G. Boodman, June 06, 2013

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