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Misdiagnoses: The Secret Killer


When people think of medical malpractice, they often think of doctors operating on the wrong limb, or accidentally leaving medical tools in their patients post-surgery. However, a significant number of medical malpractice lawsuits stem from misdiagnoses of a condition or illness, where a patient doesn’t end up getting the treatment that they need, often leading to a worsening of the condition–sometimes even death.

What the field of medicine often doesn’t admit is just how tricky and difficult diagnosis actually is; with more than 10,000 diseases, it should be no surprise just what a large part diagnostic errors play in patient deaths each year. In fact, according to a recent study, more than 20 percent of patients who sought out a second opinion from a premier medical institution ended up being misdiagnosed by their primary care providers, and most everyone will receive an incorrect or late diagnosis at least once in their lives, often with severe consequences. Still, that doesn’t mean that the medical professionals involved with them shouldn’t be held accountable for these errors when they have serious medical and health consequences for their patients.

When It Turns Out To Be Cancer

For those with deadly conditions like cancer, often by the time they find out, it’s simply too late. Recently, one Florida woman who was misdiagnosed by eight doctors and ended up having breast cancer won a $21.6 million medical malpractice verdict. Her story highlights the fact that even the nation’s most trusted doctors are capable of making mistakes with dire consequences. While initially, her doctors spent a year undertaking ultrasounds and mammograms, a second opinion led her to obtain a biopsy, which led to the discovery of the cancer.

Breast cancer in particular can often be confused with mastitis, a breast infection which shares many of the same symptoms as breast cancer. Failure to track an abnormal finding during a follow-up screening can make the difference in terms of diagnostic errors, and this failure doesn’t just involve doctors but also ultrasound technicians, who are in charge of pointing the transducer over the area(s) where lump(s) have been detected and noting the prior studies. When doctors look at images without, at the same time, talking to the patient, this risks forming an incomplete picture and ultimately arriving at an incorrect determination.

In this case, by the time the patient was diagnosed based on a second opinion, the breast cancer was determined to be incurable, and a bilateral mastectomy, surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation therapy still couldn’t save her life.

Consult With One of Our Experienced Boca Raton Medical Malpractice Attorneys

Medical malpractice claims can be complicated and doctors and hospitals often mount aggressive defenses against these claims. At the law offices of Lavalle Brown & Ronan, our Boca Raton attorneys have extensive experience assisting victims of medical malpractice and diagnostic errors. We strive to obtain the full compensation you deserve from a negligent medical professional. Contact us today for a free consultation.


For more information and in depth analysis, please contact Attorney Ken Ronan at and Case Manager Richard Bagdasarian at

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