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Is Misdiagnosis of a Sexually-Transmitted Infection Medical Malpractice?

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If you have spent any time reading through the posts on this blog, you know that many medical malpractice cases involve a doctor who failed to diagnose a serious disease they should have caught, or diagnosed one illness when, in fact, the patient had another. It is less common to hear of a malpractice case against a medical professional when a disease was diagnosed, but none was present. However, misdiagnosis of a sexually-transmitted infection can certainly constitute medical malpractice.

How Misdiagnosis of STIs Can Happen

Imagine this situation: you are a woman who goes to her OB/GYN for an annual pelvic exam. During the examination, a Pap smear is performed. You don’t think too much about this routine test, because you have had it performed annually and it has never been positive. You have been married for years and always been faithful, so you have no reason to believe you have contracted the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) that causes cervical cancer.

So when the doctor’s office calls you a few days later, telling you that your test results are consistent with HPV, you’re flabbergasted. Not only do you have to contend with treatment for a sexually-transmitted infection (STI), but you have to confront your spouse about how you contracted it. You know that you have been faithful, so your spouse must not have been—otherwise how could you have gotten an STI? Now you are dealing with questions that could rock the foundation of your marriage.

You talk to your husband. To your shock, he begins accusing you of infidelity, insisting he has never been unfaithful to you. A huge fight ensues, and he storms out. You feel as if your life has fallen down around your ears. Unable to think of anything else to do, you get re-tested a few weeks later...and find out you never had HPV at all. Apparently the lab mixed up the samples. You let your husband know, and you try to rebuild your relationship, but in the meantime, the trust in your marriage has been seriously damaged.

Or, picture this scenario: you are a man who is required to submit to a blood test. The test says you have syphilis, which if left untreated, can cause a host of medical issues, including blindness, dementia, and death. You don’t know how or when you could have contracted it, but you have no choice but to tell your wife. She is, predictably, furious and brokenhearted. You both submit to treatment, but she has a serious adverse reaction to the treatment, requiring further medical treatment and medical bills.

Later, you are informed that it was all a big mistake. You had never had any signs of syphilis, and you had not exposed your wife. Your marriage was damaged, and  her health risked, because of an error at the testing facility.

These are both examples that have happened in real life, as have false positives for other STIs due to human error. What do you do when a doctor, lab, or other medical facility causes you to be incorrectly diagnosed with a sexually-transmitted infection?

How a Medical Malpractice Attorney Can Help

Certain medical tests may have occasional false positive results, even if performed correctly. This is not medical malpractice, and a reasonable doctor should perform the test again if you are concerned the diagnosis was incorrect.

However, sometimes misdiagnosis of a sexually-transmitted infection is due to negligence on the part of a medical professional or facility. A test is performed incorrectly. A test is performed properly, but interpreted incorrectly by the doctor reading it. A lab mixes up results or samples. A nurse puts the wrong result in a chart.

If this happens, it can be not only emotionally devastating but can lead to damaged or broken relationships and submission to unnecessary, potentially costly or harmful treatment. Someone needs to be held to account for putting you through this harrowing experience.

Even if your own doctor did everything right, a lab or other facility may be responsible. An experienced Oregon medical malpractice attorney can help you figure out who is to blame and if you have a case. You have only a limited amount of time to make a claim, so do not hesitate to contact an attorney for a complimentary consultation to discuss your concerns.

Categories: Medical Malpractice

Blog Disclaimer

The information in this blog post is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended to be legal advice. You should not make a decision whether or not to contact a qualified medical malpractice attorney based upon the information in this blog post. No attorney-client relationship is formed nor should any such relationship be implied. If you require legal advice, please consult with a competent medical malpractice attorney licensed to practice in your jurisdiction.

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