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Doctor 'really shocked' when his throat cancer was misdiagnosed

The most serious of medical mistakes can mean that a patient has years of his or her life shaved off because of a medical professional's negligence. The frightening reality is that this can happen to any patient. A pediatric infectious disease specialist at Georgetown University School of Medicine stands as living testament to this fact.

The physician was clearly immersed in the medical field and very knowledgeable about health. However, even doctors can fall ill at times, so when this man began experiencing chronic throat pain he made an appointment for examination. Head and neck surgeons among other doctors at a Maryland hospital continually told the man who lived with persistent pain that the discomfort was a consequence of acid reflux. The man struggled with the pain, being given the same diagnosis for months before a resident conducted a simple procedure neglected by the doctors that boasted years more experience than the resident.

The results yielded a devastating blow: throat cancer had been growing untreated over the several months of pain, and the man now had a tumor the size of a peach pit in his throat. A failure to diagnose, an incorrect diagnosis or a delayed diagnosis is often not rectified until that precious window of early detection and treatment is closed, sometimes killing patients.

The doctor with throat cancer needed to have his entire voice box removed after he became a victim at the hands of other medical professionals. While the physician feels fortunate that the cancer was caught in time for life-saving intervention, the removal of his voice box has left him speaking in mere whispers for the rest of his days. The doctor feels that early detection would likely have spared him this fate.

The outcome of this case is alarming itself, but the fact that such a knowledgeable man and a medical professional in his own right became the victim of these circumstances is particularly alarming. If a doctor with years of experience and expertise accredited to his name can fall victim to a medical mistake, it can happen to anyone.

For other victims in Maryland made to similarly suffer due to a medical mistake that worsens their quality of life, or diminishes their life expectancy, there can be recourse. The medical professionals responsible for the negligence that led to a medical mistake can be held financially liable for compensating a victim's medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering. An attorney with experience handling cases of medical malpractice can assist a victim of such circumstances pursue financial compensation.

Source: AARP Blog, "Doctors' Errors: They Happen More Than You Think (And Can Hurt You)," Sandra G. Boodman, May 7, 2013

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