Failure to Diagnose Alleged in Medical Malpractice Lawsuit
On June 17, 2014, Martha Johnson filed a medical misdiagnosis lawsuit against a doctor practicing in Long Beach, Los Angeles County, alleging that the doctor’s failure to diagnose caused the death of her husband, George Johnson. The wrongful death lawsuit is proceeding in the Superior Court for the County of Los Angeles.
The plaintiff’s complaint also lists multiple fictitious names. Listing defendants as fictitious names is commonly done when the names of the defendants are unknown to the plaintiff at the time of the filing. The plaintiff will request to amend the lawsuit at a later date to include the true names of the additional defendants. These individuals are also likely to be doctors or other healthcare professionals, including physical therapists, nurses, technicians, and any other attendants who may have had access to the decedent’s medical records, yet allegedly failed to diagnose the condition.
Lawsuit claims medical misdiagnosis led to death
George Johnson was a patient of the defendant. In June of 2012, the defendant ordered a chest x-ray, which revealed a 1 cm density in the decedent’s right lung. According to the complaint, neither the decedent nor his family was made aware of the finding. Johnson’s widow claims that this failure to diagnose directly caused her husband’s death on July 4, 2013.
The medical misdiagnosis lawsuit is lacking in specific details about the diagnostic error, the decedent’s medical condition, and the circumstances surrounding his death. For example, the lawsuit does not make mention of whether the abnormality on the x-ray was an area of increased or decreased density. Either diagnosis would be cause for concern. An area of decreased density may indicate emphysema or it may indicate a cyst, cavity, or pneumatocele. It could lead to a diagnosis of Staphylococcus infection, tuberculosis, cystic lung disease, or a neoplasm.
Areas of increased density are far more common. If the decedent had been diagnosed with an area of increased density, he may have also been treated for an infection or for a condition such as pulmonary edema, hemorrhage, sarcoidosis, lung infarction, congestive heart failure, or lymphoma.
However, since the decedent and his family were allegedly not made aware of the abnormality on the x-ray, he did not have the opportunity to undergo treatment for his medical condition.
Martha Johnson demands a jury trial and compensation for her economic losses due to the death of her spouse. She also demands compensatory damages for the loss of consortium, support, care, companionship, and protection of her loved one.
Diagnostic errors often downplayed by experts, study finds
Incidents and lawsuits involving medical misdiagnosis are far too common in the U.S. In fact, a recent review of 25 years of data by Johns Hopkins researchers concluded that diagnostic errors are not only more prevalent than mistakes made in treatment, they are far more harmful and economically damaging. The researchers found that between 1986 and 2010, $38.8 billion in claims payouts were made to plaintiffs who alleged diagnostic errors.
Estimates place the number of people affected by diagnostic errors each year in the U.S. between 80,000 and 160,000. This study encompassed not only failure to diagnose, which was seen in the plaintiff’s lawsuit, but also other diagnostic errors such as wrongful diagnosis and delayed diagnosis. All of these diagnostic errors can lead to significant harm due to the failure to provide appropriate treatment and the administering of treatment for a condition that isn’t present.