Diagnostic errors can significantly threaten patient safety, leading to severe harm and death.
While there have been great strides in developing interventions that allow medical providers to reassess for errors and improve diagnostic accuracy, misdiagnosis continues to be frequent, costly, and deadly.
This is especially true for those suffering from autoimmune diseases, such as lupus.
Those who experience a lupus misdiagnosis should consult with an experienced attorney to learn whether they have a claim under New Mexico’s medical malpractice system.
Signs, Symptoms, and Diagnosing Lupus
Autoimmune diseases typically occur when the body mistakes normal cells and tissues as a threat. These conditions can cause debilitating symptoms and lead to early death.
Moreover, nearly 1.5 million Americans have received a lupus erythematosus diagnosis.
In light of these staggering numbers, physicians should do their due diligence in addressing the signs and symptoms of autoimmune disorders such as lupus.
Some common symptoms of lupus include:
- Joint pain and swelling,
- Brain fog,
- Chest pain,
- Nose or mouth ulcers,
- Skin lesions, and
Many patients experience years of varying symptoms that may mimic a wide array of common conditions.
However, medical providers should take steps to investigate the cause of persistent symptoms.
For example, physicians should consider ordering an “antinuclear antibody panel,” a blood test designed to detect some proteins in those with lupus.
Additionally, physicians should investigate potential triggers and genetic factors that may point to an autoimmune disorder.
Medical Malpractice for Lupus Misdiagnosis
The misdiagnosis of lupus can prevent the patient from undergoing helpful treatments. In these cases, a patient must meet the requirements of New Mexico’s Medical Malpractice Act.
Under the Act, the patient must establish that:
- The doctor breached the duty they owed the patient;
- The breach was a direct cause of the lupus misdiagnosis; and
- The diagnosis caused the patient to suffer injuries or damages.
Evidence is critical in these cases, and demonstrating negligence is challenging because of the unique nature of these autoimmune diseases.
However, patients can point to the provider’s differential diagnosis or diagnostic errors to establish negligence.
The patient may establish that their doctor was negligent by showing that the provider did not uphold the reasonable standard of care when diagnosing their illness.
Examples include the doctor’s failure to include the patient’s diagnosis on the potential list of conditions when a similarly situated doctor would have.
Moreover, the doctor may have been negligent if they failed to evaluate the patient appropriately.
A misdiagnosed lupus patient may demonstrate the provider’s negligence by proving that a diagnostic error such as the following caused the misdiagnosis:
- Defective equipment,
- Incorrect reading of results, and
- Sample contamination.
In these cases, more than one party may be liable for the patient’s injuries.
Damages for Lupus Misdiagnosis
Diagnostic errors can cause serious costs for medical providers and patients.
According to one study, medical errors make up nearly 29% of medical malpractice claims and cost the nation almost $20 billion in one reporting year.
For victims of misdiagnosis, the consequences are more direct. Another study revealed that in 59% of misdiagnoses, medical malpractice claims resulted in serious harm, and 30% resulted in death.
In New Mexico, those who suffered harm because of a lupus misdiagnosis may be able to secure compensation from the negligent healthcare provider.
Damages after a successful lupus misdiagnosis claim may include compensation for the following:
- Medical expenses,
- Lost wages,
- Lost earning potential,
- Pain and suffering.
However, New Mexico maintains stringent caps on damages, and the amount will depend on various factors.
Have You Experienced a Misdiagnosis with Lupus?
If you or a loved one were not properly diagnosed with lupus, only to later find out that you indeed suffered from the disease, you may have a medical malpractice claim against the original physician who misdiagnosed you.
At the New Mexico medical malpractice law firm of Poulos & Coates, LLP, we have over 70 years of experience helping patients and their families pursue the justice they deserve after suffering as a result of negligent medical providers.
To learn more and to schedule a free consultation, contact Poulos & Coates at 575-376-6600 today.