It is frightening to even think about, but doctors make mistakes. And when they make these mistakes, they can be life-changing.  These are the types of mistakes that will haunt a person for the rest of their life.

Take for example the recent case involving a woman who had both of her kidneys removed, only to later learn the surgery was completely unnecessary. Now, the woman is spending 12 hours per week going through dialysis, just waiting for the day when she’s healthy enough to get on a kidney transplant list.

If she ever gets on the list, she will be one of around 95,000 people on the kidney transplant list.

How does misdiagnosis happen?

In this case, doctors told the woman she needed both kidneys removed because she most likely had kidney cancer. Two months after hearing this devastating news, she went through surgery. It wasn’t until after the surgery that a biopsy found no evidence of cancer.  

While it is impossible to speculate what happened in this case, in general – misdiagnosis can happen for any number of reasons, including:

  • Misreading pathology reports
  • Failing to recognize signs and symptoms
  • Failing to order the proper tests
  • Not taking a patient’s complaints seriously

While in this case, misdiagnosis led to unnecessary treatment, harm can also happen to a patient when a doctor fails to make a proper and timely diagnosis. For example, a doctor can miss cancer signs, therefore delaying the potential for cancer treatment. By the time the mistake is discovered – if it ever even is – the patient could have already suffered a great deal of harm.

What should happen after misdiagnosis?

In this woman’s case, she has hired a lawyer, which is the first step anyone should take after a misdiagnosis of this magnitude.

While the specifics on what will happen in this case are not public, in general – in a misdiagnosis case — an attorney will typically review all the medical records to see what happened and what should have happened. If the doctor or medical professional made a mistake in care – either by missing a diagnosis or giving the wrong diagnosis – the next step would be taking legal action.