When is Pneumonia Misdiagnosis Considered Medical Negligence?
Pneumonia misdiagnosis happens when a physician makes a wrong diagnosis or delayed diagnosis of his patient’s condition. Consequently, when a patient suffers harm or injuries from such misdiagnosis, he may sue his doctor for medical malpractice.
What is Pneumonia?
Pneumonia is the inflammation of the alveoli. These are microscopic air sacs found in the lungs.
The normal exchange of carbon dioxide for oxygen takes place in the alveoli. It makes these air sacs a delicate and viable component of the respiratory system.
Fluids or pus accumulate in the alveoli when they are infected by bacteria, viruses, or fungi. When this happens, the oxygen-carbon dioxide exchange is impaired, which eventually leads to decreased oxygenation throughout the body.
How Do Physicians Diagnose Pneumonia?
According to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, doctors will have to diagnose pneumonia based on the patient’s physical examination, medical history, and laboratory or test results.
- Physical Examination
Listening to a patient’s chest sounds is part of the standard physical examination of which doctors are bound to perform. Accordingly, findings of crackles, wheezing, or bubbling and rumbling sounds should alert them of the possible existence of pneumonia. Absence of breath sounds in some areas of the patient’s chest is another indication of pneumonia.
- Medical History
Taking the patient’s medical history should go hand in hand with physical examination. This is when a physician must explore the signs and symptoms which brought the patient to the health facility in the first place.
- Pneumonia signs and symptoms
Depending on his level of immunity, age, and general health condition, each person may exhibit different signs and symptoms of pneumonia.
These may include:
- Coughing, accompanied by yellowish or greenish phlegm (mucus);
- Shaking chills;
- High-grade fever
- Rapid or shallow breathing;
- Shortness of Breath
- Chest pain, especially when breathing and coughing;
- Nausea and vomiting (often in children), and/or;
- Confusion (more frequent in adult patients)
Usually, doctors will also ask about their patient’s lifestyle. The questions may include the patient’s hobbies, smoking habit (if any), past and present medical conditions, current medications, vaccinations, and other pertinent matters.
- Test Results
Pneumonia is likewise properly identified through routine tests. These may include:
- chest x-ray, sputum test (spit or phlegm test);
- Chest CT scans;
- Pleural fluid culture tests;
- Bronchoscopy; and
- Pulse oximetry
Why are Pneumonia Patients Frequently Misdiagnosed?
While pneumonia shows up in a chest x-ray, the signs and symptoms don’t make its diagnosis easier.
Physicians may misidentify pneumonia for another illness because of signs and symptoms and x-ray patterns that may also appear in other health conditions. Incidentally, some serious diseases like pulmonary tuberculosis, flu, sinusitis, measles, or even heart attack has pneumonia-like clinical presentations.
Other times, some physicians misdiagnose pneumonia due to their failure to adopt proper diagnostic standards. This happens when the physician does not perform proper and routine diagnostic procedures (e.g., chest x-rays, sputum tests), or falls short in doing thorough physical examination and taking medical history.
Pneumonia may also be mistaken for something else if the doctor fails to rule out other related or similar illnesses through differential diagnoses.
Liability in Pneumonia Misdiagnosis Cases
A physician might be liable for medical malpractice if the patient sustained harm or injury as a result of the misdiagnosis.
- Pneumonia misdiagnosis must amount to medical negligence
Pneumonia misdiagnosis is not outright medical negligence. Likewise, it does not automatically give rise to medical malpractice and make the physician concerned liable. Consequently, even some of the world’s most esteemed physicians still incur medical errors.
Misdiagnosis would amount to medical negligence only when the physician failed to adopt standards and criteria which a similarly situated and trained doctor would have adopted under the same circumstances.
- Harm or injury upon the patient
A misdiagnosis becomes a proof of medical negligence if the patient was harmed, or his condition became worse as a consequence. Here, the injury or harm the patient sustained is something they would not have experienced had they been given the correct or accurate medical diagnosis.
Let’s Talk. Allow Our team at The Clark Law Office To Help You.
At Clark Law Office, we make sure that no one suffers from pneumonia misdiagnosis and medical practice in Michigan. Our team of competent injury attorneys has immense experience and commitment needed to win your medical practice claims.
Contact us at +1 (517) 347-6900 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Together, we’ll safeguard your patient’s rights.