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Mark Bello
Mark Bello
Attorney • (877) 377-7848

Differential Diagnosis: Would it Have Prevented a Year of Suffering and Saved a Life?

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Everyone makes mistakes, but what happens when a doctor makes a mistake and fails to diagnose a serious medical condition? While still grieving the death of their loved one, a family has filed a wrongful death lawsuit alleging doctors failed to perform proper testing and were negligent in the care proved to their 73-year-old wife and mother.

In November 2009, the woman went to the medical center after a sudden onset of a headache, vomiting, weakness, memory loss, dehydration, and dizziness. Prior to this time, her family claims that she led an independent lifestyle, was active, and able to perform everyday household chores. The doctors immediately associated her sudden change in health to an advance stage of dementia. The family was not convinced and requested that the woman be admitted to the hospital for X-rays, diagnostic testing, and an examination by a specialist. To their dismay, the doctors did not agree, but rather recommended she be placed in hospice care until she died. Upon her death, an autopsy revealed that the woman had a traumatic skull fracture with brain injury. Now the family seeks damages for her wrongful death, medical negligence, and pain and suffering.

Doctors are taught to use what is called the "differential diagnosis method" to determine the cause of a patient’s medical condition. This method helps identify the most likely medical condition from a list of conditions with the same or similar signs and symptoms. Then the doctor reviews the list to confirm or rule out those conditions. Differential diagnosis allows the physician to:

  • more clearly understand the condition or circumstance
  • assess reasonable prognosis

  • eliminate any imminently life-threatening conditions

  • plan treatment or intervention for the condition or circumstance

Failing to follow this process can result in a misdiagnosis. If that happens, as in this case, the appropriate treatment is not given and the patient can suffer serious or life-threatening consequences. Only a jury can decide this case after reviewing all the facts. Did the doctor make a list of all possible diagnosis that could explain this woman’s condition? If so, why was the skull fracture not found? This family appears to have asked the important questions "What else can be done?" "What else can it be?" Yes, these questions can make a difference in the appropriate care. It is important to know why other diagnosis options were eliminated. Although it will never bring their loved one back, hopefully, these questions will be answered in court.

Mark Bello has thirty-three years experience as a trial lawyer and twelve years as an underwriter and situational analyst in the lawsuit funding industry. He is the owner and founder of Lawsuit Financial Corporation which helps provide legal finance cash flow solutions and consulting when necessities of life litigation funding is needed by plaintiffs involved in pending, personal injury litigation. Bello is a Justice Pac member of the American Association for Justice, Sustaining and Justice Pac member of the Michigan Association for Justice, Business Associate of the Florida, Tennessee, and Colorado Associations for Justice, a member of the American Bar Association as well as their ABA Advisory Committee, the State Bar of Michigan and the Injury Board.