Medical errors are the third leading cause of death in the United States. One of the main types of medical errors is wrong diagnosis or misdiagnosis. Oftentimes, misdiagnosing a disease or condition could lead to unnecessary surgery. Going through surgery is an involved process and can be stressful, painful, traumatic, and emotionally draining for many. To unnecessarily put someone through this process that can also be financially stressful and usually leads to a medical malpractice lawsuit.
If you have been the victim of medical negligence where misdiagnosis or wrongful diagnosis led to unnecessary surgery and other complications, it is important that you contact an experienced West Virginia medical malpractice attorney who will fight hard to protect your rights and help you secure the compensation you need and rightfully deserve.
Types of Unnecessary Surgery
Any type of surgery could be the result of wrongful diagnosis. However, there are certain types of surgeries that are more often performed by medical professionals that turn out to be unnecessary or unwarranted. Here are a few examples.
C-sections: Cesarean delivery (C-section) is a surgical procedure used to deliver a baby through incisions in the abdomen and uterus. A C-section might be planned ahead of time if you develop pregnancy complications or you’ve had a previous C-section and aren’t considering a vaginal birth after cesarean (VBAC). Often, however, the need for a first-time C-section doesn’t become obvious until labor is underway.
C-sections are often necessary because the mother’s life or the infant’s life is in danger. However, there are some times when medical professionals wrongfully evaluate or diagnose the situation leading to an unnecessary C-section. Some C-sections when not done properly can increase the risk of permanent injury to the mother and child. Recovery also takes longer for the mother after a C-section compared to a vaginal birth.
Spinal Fusion: This type of surgery essentially fuses small bones in the spinal column in order to stop back pain. Some clinical trials have shown that spinal fusion does not necessarily lead to better patient outcomes. Unnecessary surgery is defined as any surgical intervention that is either not needed, not indicated, or not in the patient’s best interest when weighed against other available options, including conservative measures.
Arthroscopic knee surgery: These knee surgeries are extremely common with hundreds of thousands of procedures performed in the United States each year. However, a recently published trial showed that there was no benefit with these surgeries after a one-year follow-up. There is also a high risk of complications after these types of surgeries.
Hysterectomy: While the hysterectomy (removal of the uterus) is the second most commonly performed surgery among women after a C-section, studies show that one in three women will undergo the procedure by the age of 60. A new study also shows that one in five women in the United States may not need to undergo a hysterectomy.
How Does Misdiagnosis Occur?
It is fairly common for doctors to miss important medical details or misjudge a symptom that may lead them to the wrong conclusion about your health conditions. Here are some of the most common critical details doctors may miss:
Lab results: Doctors could misread or ignore the results of a lab test such a blood work, x-rays or radiology.
Patient’s history: It is important for doctors to take the patient’s medical history into account. They should be able to evaluate the effect of the medications you currently take and the impact a past health condition could have on your current health issues.
Ordering tests: Doctors may order the incorrect tests or fail to order tests that are needed in order to zero in on the problem.
Symptoms: In some cases, physicians may also fail to recognize the symptoms of a disease or disorder.
Patients who are forced to undergo unnecessary surgery may have a valid medical malpractice case. Doctors also have a responsibility to offer follow-up care after the surgery to help prevent life-threatening infections and other complications.
When Can You Sue for Negligence?
If your doctor misdiagnosed or wrongfully diagnosed you condition and recommended a surgical procedure based on that misdiagnosis, then you may be able to file a medical malpractice claim if you underwent that unnecessary surgery. In order to be successful with a medical malpractice claim you must show that you had a doctor-patient relationship; that harm was done during treatment; that you suffered injury or harm as a result; and that you suffered monetary losses as well as a result of such medical negligence.
Typically, in a misdiagnosis and unnecessary surgery case, you may have to prove the following elements:
Your doctor breached the standard of care. This is essentially the medical treatment that a professional who is similarly educated and qualified would have followed for the patient. You can prove negligence if you can show evidence that your doctor did not follow the standard of care.
Your doctor acted negligently (carelessly). It is important for plaintiffs in medical malpractice cases to prove that the doctor’s negligence caused their injury. This means that if the doctor had followed the standard of care, the patient might not have been injured or exposed to adverse health outcomes.
The doctor’s negligence affected you. As the plaintiff, you must also show how the injury has affected you and how it has resulted in significant damages including pain and expenses from unnecessary surgery.
Contacting an Experienced Attorney
The experienced Morgantown West Virginia surgical malpractice attorneys at the Robinette Legal Group PLLC will fight every step of the way to help ensure that you receive maximum compensation for your injuries, damages and losses. You may be able to seek compensation for damages such as medical expenses, lost income, hospitalization, permanent injuries, disabilities, past and future pain and suffering and emotional distress.
If you have suffered the consequences of missed diagnosis and unnecessary surgery at area hospitals such as Ruby Memorial Hospital, Monongalia General (Mon General) Hospital, Mon Health Systems WVU University Health Associates or private clinics in West Virginia, please call us to find out how we can help. Contact us at 304-594-1800 for a no-cost, no-obligation consultation.