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Failure to diagnose illness causes catastrophic results

A failure to diagnose an illness or disease can be a major issue in medical malpractice cases in Oklahoma and across the country. In a Missouri case decided earlier in 2017, a clinic was ordered to provide nearly $29 million in compensation after its practitioners failed to diagnose a patient's Wilson's disease.

Wilson's disease is a rare disorder in which a timely diagnosis can make a significant difference in outcomes. The genetic disorder causes a buildup of copper in the body's vital organs, especially the liver and the brain. This buildup can cause permanent brain damage and neurological disorders.

The patient was diagnosed by the clinic as suffering from anxiety and depression despite her insistence, along with her family, that she was experiencing serious physical symptoms of deterioration. She was unable to write due to severe tremors, fainted and lost her balance. For five months, the clinic refused to provide further testing despite her worsening condition. By then, she was suffering from speech impairment, partial paralysis, muscle spasms and dystonia. Due to the clinic's medical error, she is now permanently unable to walk and must consume her meals through a feeding tube. The award of $28.9 million in damages largely covers future medical expenses.

During the case, the clinic insisted that the care provided to the patient was adequate. For the jury, however, the case was clearly an example of a situation in which a patient's own experience of her health was repeatedly doubted, causing her permanent disabilities.

A patient who has been harmed due to a physician's failure to diagnose a condition in a timely manner might want to discuss the matter with an attorney. Legal counsel could consult with one or more medical experts in order to see if such a failure constituted medical malpractice.

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