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Misdiagnoses of man's condition left him in agony for days

When Illinois patients go to an emergency room with a physical complaint, they expect doctors and other medical staff to diligently attempt to identify the problem so that it can be treated. When misdiagnoses occur, patients can end up suffering further pain and even permanent damage. In some cases, people have died because of diagnosis errors.

The first two times that an out-of-state man went to the emergency room after an accident at home, he was sent home without an accurate diagnosis. Part of the problem with making a diagnosis may be that the 42-year-old man is unable to communicate due to a severe disability. However, that should have made medical personnel work harder to be sure there was nothing seriously wrong.

On Oct. 15, he fell out of bed and was taken to an area hospital. His shoulder was x-rayed, and he was sent home with pain killers. On Oct. 19, he was unable to sit up without pain, so he was again taken to the emergency room and sent home again. By Oct. 26, his family recognized that his pain must have been excruciating because he was actually crying -- something he does not do often.

He remained in the hospital for three days for observation, but then doctors at the New Hampshire hospital told his family that he would be sent home -- again, it was claimed that there was nothing wrong. Doctors even suggested that perhaps the family was ill-equipped to care for him. After he was discharged, an alert x-ray technician noticed that the man's neck was broken in three places, and most likely had been since Oct. 15. He was placed into a rehabilitation facility while he heals, which could take up to three months.

In the meantime, the family is demanding that the hospital change the way it deals with patients who are disabled and/or those who are unable to communicate. Illinois readers would be correct in assuming that it may also be possible to file a medical malpractice claim against those parties believed responsible for the multiple misdiagnoses of this man's condition. Any restitution received as the result of a successfully litigated claim could be used to care for him.

Source: myfoxboston.com, "Family demanding change after disabled man misdiagnosed twice", Kathryn Burcham, Nov. 5, 2015

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