Articles Posted in Failure To Diagnose

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“The failure to diagnose cancer is one of the most common types of New York medical malpractice lawsuits,” said Syracuse lawyer Michael A. Bottar, Esq., of Bottar Leone, PLLC.

A new blood test developed by several Boston scientists will be brought to the market in the very near future through a partnership with Johnson & Johnson. Unlike currently available tests that can find tumor cells in blood, the new test dubbed a “liquid biopsy” will be able to capture whole cells that doctors can analyze. The new test can find one cancer cell in a billion or more healthy cells by using a microchip covered with 78,000 tiny posts that are coated with antibodies that bind with tumor cells when found. When blood cells are run over the hair-like posts, healthy cells “bounce off” and cancer cells “stick.”

Metastatic disease and death due late diagnosis of cancer should decrease,” Bottar added. Historically, doctors administer a drug or therapy and have to wait months to perform imaging (e.g., a CT scan) to determine if the tumor has decreased in size. Many patients do not live long enough for oncologists to find a drug or therapy that works. The new test is promising because doctors will be able to determine, within a day or two, whether a particular cancer treatment is working.
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While it is well-known that birth control pills may increase the risk of a stroke, a new dangerous side-effect is receiving the attention of the medical field. According to a physician who spoke at the “50 Years of the Pill” conference last week in Washington, D.C., there is a strong link between the pill and an increased risk of breast cancer, as well as cervical cancer and liver cancer.

“The ‘pill’ was developed in the 1950s. Data suggests an astounding 660% increase in non-invasive breast cancer since 1973,” said Michael A. Bottar, Esq., a New York medical malpractice lawyer with Bottar Leone, PLLC, a Syracuse-based law firm with decades of experience handling cases involving avoidable metastastic cancer. “Doctors should be aware of the potential association between the pill and cancer so that they can help their patients avoid the consequences of a failure to diagnose breast cancer, cervical cancer misdiagnosis, or late diagnosis of liver cancer.”

Breast cancer, in particular, presents a very real risk for women, especially following a confusing U.S Preventive Service Task Force recommendation against yearly mammograms and breast self-examinations which we blogged previously in a post titled “Failures To Diagnose Breast Cancer May Increase Following Task Force Recommendations.” Risk factors for breast cancer in women include increasing age, a prior breast cancer diagnosis, a family history of breast cancer, high breast tissue density, high-dose chest radiation, no children (or first child after age 30), and a long menstrual history.
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The American College of Cardiology Foundation and the American Heart Association recently announced guidelines for the use of nuclear imaging to diagnose and manage heart failure.

According to Syracuse misdiagnosis lawyer Michael A. Bottar, an attorney with Bottar Leone, PLLC, a Syracuse medical malpractice and catastrophic injury law firm, a failure to diagnose heart damage can lead to a wrongful death. Timely diagnosis is critical to survival.

Cardiology malpractice and New York emergency room mistakes can be avoided if doctors timely identify ventricular dysfunction and plan a course of treatment. A well-reasoned plan of care should include an attempt to determine the etiology of the heart problem. It is important for medical providers to know whether, for example, a patient is presenting with ischemic, dilated, valvular, or congenital heart failure. Each is treated differently. While a stethoscope is a very useful tool, imaging studies are essential to making the correct diagnosis.

The guidelines first recommend that a physician secure a two-dimensional echocardiogram. This study quantifies the heart’s ejection fraction, as well as valve size and function (or dysfunction). From there, more complicated studies are available, including radionuclide ventriculography, coronary arteriography, myocardial perfusion imaging (MPI), and SPECT and MUGA studies.
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According to a recent clinical trial, the newly developed Cologuard sDNA test is better at detecting colon cancer than current non-invasive tests such as the fecal occult blood test.

Researchers report that the sDNA test identified 64% of pre-cancerous polyps and 85% of full-blown cancers. The test measures altered DNA cells in all locations throughout the colon. It is the first non-invasive test to identify pre-cancerous polyps. It requires no bowel preparation.

According to Michael A. Bottar, Esq., a New York colon cancer misdiagnosis lawyer with Bottar Leone, PLLC, a team of Syracuse medical malpractice lawyers, invasive screenings such as a colonoscopy or sigmoidoscopy are currently the “Holy Grail” for detecting colon cancer. Because those studies have risks, gastroenterologists are always searching for a highly accurent, non-invasive alternative.

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According to a recent study published by the National Cancer Institute, a large number of primary care doctors, also known as internists, do not know whether low-dose spiral computerized tomography (LDCT) screening is effective in identifying lung cancer in asymptomatic patients.

Most (67%) of the doctors who participated in the study reported that LDCT is effective in reducing lung cancer risk. However, according to Syracuse medical malpractice lawyer Michael A. Bottar, Esq., “there is little if any evidence that such screening lowers the risk of death from lung cancer in these patients.” The study is a cause for concern because primary care physicians that use LDCT as their only means of checking for lung cancer may fail to diagnose cancer. A contrasting study, published by the National Cancer Institute, suggests that screening heavy-smokers with a spiral chest CT may reduce the risk of lung cancer death.

At the present time, the American Cancer Society does not recommending lung cancer screenings for people without symptoms. Nearly 25% of all people with lung cancer do not have symptoms. When there are lung cancer symptoms, they generally include a nagging cough, coughing-up blood (hemoptysis), dull chest pain, wheezing, shortness of breath and repeated respiratory infections.

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Syracuse medical malpractice lawyer Anthony S. Bottar, managing partner of Bottar Leone, PLLC, one of Upstate New York’s oldest law firms with a practice limited to medical malpractice, wrongful death, birth injuries, work injuries, brain injuries, and product/premises liability, was elected president of the New York State Academy of Trial Lawyers, an organization dedicated to protecting, preserving and enhancing the civil justice system.

The New York State Academy of Trial Lawyers boasts a membership of more than 1400 judges, law clerks, law firms, lawyers, paralegals and law students, including: Syracuse medical malpractice lawyers handling cases concerning stroke misdiagnosis, failure to diagnose cancer and failure to prevent a heart attack; Syracuse work injury lawyers handling cases concerning construction site accidents, scaffolding accidents and injuries caused by a fall from a height; Syracuse birth injury lawyers handling cases concerning fetal hypoxia and ischemia, cerebral palsy and Erb’s palsy; Utica brain injury lawyers handling cases concerning concussions, post-concussion symdrome and TBI; Watertown medical malpractice lawyers handling cases concerning Samaritan Medical Center negligence and Fort Drum physician mistakes; and Watertown injury lawyers handling New York State Thruway accidents.

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To err is human. Doctors, nurses and hospitals are no exception. According to a study published by the Journal of the American Medical Association, as many as 10-15% of medical diagnoses are wrong. That data, taken from patient autopsies, paints a fairly accurate picture about Syracuse medical malpractice lawsuits for mistakes made by local practitioners and at area hospitals, like Crouse Hospital, St. Joseph’s Hospital Health Center, University Hospital and Community General Hospital. That is, most patients receive proper medical care, but nearly 2 in 10 will not.

Should I call a Syracuse medical malpractice lawyer to find out if I have a case? The short answer is yes. As your time to file a lawsuit is limited, you should call sooner, rather than later. In an effort to provide some guidance to the victims of medical malpractice, we will attempt to identify five warning signs of medical negligence:

ONE: Be concerned if, despite treatment for your illness, you do not get better (be very concerned if you in fact get worse). After settling on a diagnosis, whether or not it’s the correct one, many health care professionals choose not to look further. No one wants to admit that they were wrong. Seek a second opinion, as the diagnosis you carry may be incorrect!

TWO: Be concerned if your diagnosis does not seem to match your symptoms. We all have access to the internet. Search the web to see if your symptoms are consistent with the diagnosed condition. If not, you may have been misdiagnosed. Good sources of information about your symptoms and your condition include WebMD (www.webmd.com) and YourDiagnosis (www.yourdiagnosis.com), as well as WD (www.wrongdiagnosis.com). Take this information to the doctor who diagnosed you, or to a new doctor, and ask questions. Help your doctor help you!

THREE: Be wary of a diagnosis based solely upon a single lab test. Labs can be wrong. Make sure that your doctor questions the lab results and, if a very serious condition, request that a second lab perform an analysis.

FOUR: Be concerned if your doctor attributes common complaints to an uncommon diagnosis. Often, a headache without more is, well, just a headache.

FIVE: Challenge a diagnosis that can be confirmed or ruled-out with a test that you have not received. If there is a test that will paint a complete picture for your doctor, you should receive it. If it has not been recommended, ask for it (see sign TWO, supra – do research)! The failure to diagnose a condition is often due to the decision not to order a test when the test was indicated.

While a medical malpractice lawsuit cannot fix the physical damage caused by a misdiagnosis or a failure to diagnose, but it can help to secure funds so that you and your family can attempt to live a normal life despite your losses, which may include permanent disability due to a surgical error, wrongful death due to nursing negligence, limb loss due to infection, or brain damage due to medication errors. A lawsuit may also recover future medical costs and restore economic losses, such as lost wages and benefits.
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Last week, Aaron J. Ryder, Esq., a Syracuse medical malpractice lawyer with Bottar Leone, PLLC, secured $900,000.00 in compensation from a group of north country defendants, including several emergency room physicians working at a Watertown-area hospital. The Watertown emergency room malpractice lawsuit alleged that the defendants’ collectively failed to diagnose a carotid artery occlusion before the plaintiff suffered a stroke that caused a partial loss of use of one arm, partial loss of use of one leg, speech and memory deficits, and a permanent seizure disorder.

In sum, the 51 year old plaintiff presented to the emergency room on day 1 with complaints of a headache and lower extremity weakness. She was discharged with a diagnosis of back pain. She returned on day 23 with ongoing complaints of lower extremity weakness and decreased muscle control. She was again discharged with a diagnosis of back pain. She returned on day 24 with complaints of jumbled thoughts, blurred vision, lower extremity weakness, decreased lower extremity sensation, and was observed dragging her foot while walking. She was discharged with no diagnosis. On day 25, the plaintiff suffered a stroke. The stroke prevented blood from reaching her brain, causing brain damage.

As the plaintiff was permanently totally disabled before the stroke, for reasons unrelated to the lawsuit, she did not have a claim for lost wages. The $900,000.00 recovery was for her past and future pain and suffering.

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With Spring comes more sunshine and more time outdoors for Central New York residents, including children living in Syracuse, Ithaca, Oswego, Utica, Rome, Herkimer, Watertown and Binghamton. At the same time, more time outdoors means more exposure to Lyme Disease. Syracuse New York Lyme Disease lawyers Bottar Leone, PLLC, warn residents to check their arms and legs for ticks!

Lyme Disease is a largely tick-borne disease that is passed to humans through a bug bite, which is usually followed by a rash and/or bulls eye shaped red mark. Additional signs and symptoms include a flu-like feeling, fever, chest congestion, headache, nausea, and joint pain. Unfortunately, a Lyme Disease rash is often misdiagnosed as poison ivy or ringworm. Other symptoms are commonly confused with the flu or a musculoskeletal injury.

The failure to diagnose Lyme Disease can have devastating consequences, including brain damage due to meningitis, heart damage due to infective endocarditis, Lyme arthritis and Bells’ Palsy. Generally, Lyme Disease is diagnosed by a blood test and, if positive, is treated with either oral or intravenous amoxicillin (depending upon the stage of the disease).
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Gestational diabetes is a condition where a pregnant woman develops high blood sugar levels, or diabetes, during pregnancy. As many as 1 in 25 women experience some degree of gestational diabetes as pregnancy hormones block the action of naturally produced insulin. Insulin is the chemical the body uses to break down sugar in the blood.

According to Syracuse New York gestational diabetes lawyers Bottar Leone, PLLC, well-known blood sugar level benchmarks may soon be revised in order to better diagnose and treat women diagnosed with diabetes during pregnancy. Soon to be released revised guidelines will result in more women carrying the diagnosis of gestational diabetes, as well as better care for blood glucose levels which may pose a threat the health and safety of a mother and her unborn fetus.

Historically, a fasting blood sugar level of 92 mg/dL was considered “safe,” as was a one-hour level of 180 mg/dL and a two-hour level of 153 mg/dL. New standards will set the bar much lower. Medical intervention at lower maternal blood glucose levels should reduce the number of premature deliveries, shoulder dystocias due to big babies, and a high blood pressure condition called preeclampsia. A failure to diagnose preeclampsia can cause maternal heart failure, and death.

The failure to diagnose gestational diabetes can have serious consequences, including maternal or fetal death, maternal or fetal heart damage, Erb’s palsy, cerebral palsy, polycythemia, jaundice and hypocalcemia.
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