Uncertain Diagnoses and Your Mental Health

If you’ve ever been through the trials of trying to find a diagnosis for an unknown ailment, you understand just how frustrating and draining the process can be. Numerous doctor visits, hospitals, appointments, and specialists may be required to properly diagnose an unknown medical condition. Meanwhile, while you are waiting for an accurate diagnosis, the ailment continues to cause the symptoms that prompted the numerous doctor visits in the first place, and helpful treatment is delayed until the issue can be fully named and assessed.

Unfortunately, this back and forth process, this uncertainty, and the symptomatic pain always present with an undefined condition can contribute to other concerning mental health issues as well. Doubt can be a damaging feeling, as you may begin to doubt the validity of your pain, symptoms, and ailment. This doubt causes considerable feeling of unrest and fear, and can contribute to the development of other mental health issues such as panic, anxiety, and depression. It is therefore imperative to take particular care of your mental health when undergoing the process of diagnosing a difficult condition, and to be aware of how the process effects you, mentally and emotionally.

Additionally, if you are not making diagnostic progress with a specific doctor, you may consider trying different physicians. If another physician can readily diagnose you where a previous could not, this may be the fault of the physician and not the fault of the complexity of your symptoms or condition. In such cases, as the Tucson medical malpractice attorneys of Russo, Russo, & Slania, P.C. note, these experiences may leave you with considerable emotional and financial trauma in addition to the already existing physical harm. The trauma of misdiagnoses is similar to that of a long awaited or uncertain diagnoses, making attention to mental health a top priority in all cases. Inattention to mental matters in lieu of emphasis on the physical ailment may leave you in an even sicker state, so stay equally attentive to your mental as well as physical health and symptoms as you pursue a diagnosis and treatment.

Delayed Diagnosis as Medical Malpractice

There have been a lot of emails and blog posts related to identifying the symptoms of incipient stroke. This is because stroke cannot generally be predicted, and to the untrained individual it may look like anything from intoxication (slurred speech) to simple tiredness (neck pain, general weakness). However, for the trained health care professional, there is no excuse for overlooking the significance of these symptoms when taken together, and failure to identify incipient or actual stroke in a timely manner can have serious consequences to the patient.

Stroke is essentially loss of brain function due to lack of oxygen (brain cell death) or pressure on the brain from a hemorrhage. This may be due to obstruction of the blood vessels carrying oxygenated blood to the brain (ischemic stroke) or a rupture in a blood vessel on the brain’s surface (hemorrhagic stroke). In many cases, there is no advance warning about these events, sometimes referred to as cerebrovascular accidents, so there is no way to circumvent it.

An article on the website of Crowe & Mulvey, LLP from New Hampshire characterizes stroke as a medical emergency, so it is important to have an idea of the symptoms. The patient may experience a sudden loss of balance, blurred vision, confusion, weakness, dizziness, speech problems, or any combination of these symptoms. If these symptoms are present, the patient should brought to the hospital emergency room or a doctor’s clinic at the onset of symptoms.

There are protocols that are in place to determine if it is indeed a stroke which includes a physical assessment, ultrasound, CT scan, and MRI. However, the physician should first suspect the condition to have these tests done, and with stroke, an early diagnosis is the key to minimizing the damage. Stroke victims that are not treated immediately suffer more severe consequences than they should have.
The failure of the physician or other attending healthcare professional to recognize the signs of stroke in a timely manner would be considered delayed diagnosis, and this can be medical malpractice. This is because it is their duty to know and notice these things in their capacity as a medical practitioner. If you or an immediate family member suffered injury because of delayed diagnosis, you should contact a medical malpractice lawyer to see what can be done to address the negligence.