One of the more baffling aspects of the COVID-19 coronavirus is that it affects people in different ways. It is also one of the virus’s main dangers. A person can be infected with COVID-19 and experience no symptoms and thereby suffer a quick and potentially dangerous downturn if the disease suddenly progresses. An infected person who is asymptomatic also can unknowingly spread the virus to others.
It is imperative that hospitals, doctors’ offices and other public and private COVID-19 testing sites provide accurate test results and diagnosis of potential coronavirus patients. A diagnostic error may prove deadly and may well be the basis for a misdiagnosis medical malpractice claim.
At The Law Offices of Dr. Michael M. Wilson, MD, JD & Associates, our experienced medical malpractice attorneys know the law and the science behind medical misdiagnosis cases. Dr. Wilson is a physician as well as lawyer. If you or a loved one of yours has been hospitalized for COVID-19 and you were misdiagnosed initially, we’d like to review the facts of your case for free. We’ll seek to determine whether a healthcare provider was negligent in missing a diagnosis of your COVID-19 case, and whether that led to your infection. You may be due compensation for your medical expenses, lost income, pain, suffering and other losses.
What are the Symptoms of COVID-19?
The COVID-19 coronavirus is spread from person to person, chiefly through aerosols, liquid droplets of saliva or nasal mucous containing the virus that float in the air until inhaled. Anyone can experience mild to severe symptoms or have no symptoms at all.
Symptoms may appear in two to 14 days after exposure to the virus. COVID-19 may cause:
- Fever or chills
- Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
- Muscle or body aches
- Loss of taste or smell
- Sore throat
- Congestion or runny nose
- Nausea or vomiting
If someone exhibits these COVID-19 symptoms, seek emergency medical care immediately:
- Trouble breathing
- Persistent pain or pressure in the chest
- New confusion
- Inability to wake or stay awake
- Bluish lips or face
Testing for a COVID-19 Diagnosis
Most COVID-19 testing sites are using a test known as the CDC 2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) Real-Time Reverse Transcriptase (RT)–PCR Diagnostic Panel. The test is designed to detect the SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes COVID-19.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has provided the tests to U.S. state and local public health laboratories and Department of Defense laboratories that were either previously qualified as being able to perform a similar type of test used to detect influenza or have been recently approved by their state public health laboratory for SARS-CoV-2 testing.
Unfortunately, the PCR Diagnostic Panel and other tests for the COVID-19 coronavirus are not 100% accurate. False negatives and false positives have been a persistent problem. And, for that matter, any medical test can be read inaccurately, which would lead to a misdiagnosis.
Health safety experts at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, Texas, and Press Ganey Associates LLC in Boston recently identified several types of diagnostic errors to be anticipated during the COVID-19 pandemic. Any of these misdiagnoses can lead to patient harm from delays in receiving the correct treatment:
- Classic: A delayed COVID-19 diagnosis due to lack of accessible tests, tests that read false-negative or incorrectly interpreted test results.
- Anomalous: A COVID-19 patient misdiagnosed as non-COVID when the patient presents less common symptoms, such as nausea and diarrhea, especially if the patient lacks respiratory symptoms.
- Anchor: Assuming someone has COVID-19 when he or she may have another illness instead, such as bacterial pneumonia or sinusitis. This can allow the patient’s condition to grow worse, especially if the patient requires antibiotics.
- Secondary: Because COVID-19 is a new virus, clinicians may miss underlying or secondary conditions that it can cause, such as lung complications related to blood clots.
- Unintended: Misdiagnosis caused by only indirect contact with a patient through telehealth or barriers presented by personal protective equipment (PPE).
Was a Missed COVID-19 Diagnosis Due to Negligence?
To prove negligence in a medical malpractice claim, the plaintiff must demonstrate that the medical professional, technician, laboratory, or institution failed to meet the standard of care that a similarly trained and equipped health care professional would have provided under similar circumstances.
Because the COVID-19 coronavirus is new, the medical world’s knowledge of it and standards for its diagnosis and treatment have continually changed since the beginning of 2020. Our attorneys and the medical specialists we would consult would have to consider the timeline of your case to decide what standard of care you should have expected at the time of your missed diagnosis.
Additionally, a claim would have to show:
- How the missed diagnosis occurred
- The impact of the missed diagnosis on the patient’s overall ability to recover or survive, and
- The patient and/or their immediate family members suffered losses that can be made better with money, such as medical expenses, the death of the family’s breadwinner and/or unnecessary pain and suffering and emotional distress.
What Should I Do About a Failure to Diagnose COVID-19?
If you or a loved one has been hospitalized for COVID-19 in the Washington, D.C., area after a diagnosis you later found to be incorrect, please contact our COVID-19 malpractice and negligence attorney. The Law Offices of Dr. Michael M. Wilson MD, JD & Associates is reviewing all potential COVID-19 malpractice claims with the intention of seeking substantial payments for individuals and families who have been harmed through the negligence of medical providers.
Our team will investigate your case to identify any path available for recovering compensation for you. Our dual background in law and medicine gives you an advantage at the start of a potential claim. We are able to avoid time-wasting false starts and to assess and argue the merits of your claim from firsthand knowledge.
Contact us today for a free, no obligation discussion of your case and how we can help you.
Dr. Michael M. Wilson is an attorney and a physician who earned his undergraduate degree from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and his legal and medical degrees from Georgetown University. He has focused in the area of medical malpractice for more than three decades and secured more than $100 million in settlements and verdicts on behalf of clients throughout the country. He is admitted to practice in the District of Columbia and New York as well as the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia and the U.S. Supreme Court. He is listed in America’s Top 100 High Stakes Litigators.