When a group of doctors do not perform diagnostic tests that are clearly indicated by the symptoms, the patient's death from a missed diagnosis may be medical malpractice under the laws of Oregon and other jurisdictions. The determination of whether a late diagnosis could be responsible for the patient's death must generally be proved by medical expert testimony and evidence. In one state, a heartbreaking outcome may have been prevented if doctors had submitted a 13-year-old girl to the indicated tests.

The parents recently filed a complaint alleging rather shocking facts, including a series of omissions by medical personnel to perform a brain scan and other clearly indicated tests. The complaint alleges that the decedent first appeared at the defendant pediatrics practice at the end of Feb. 2016, with complaints of headaches. She was told to return if they reappeared. She returned in April with reports of three weeks of throbbing headaches, vomiting, impaired vision and nausea.

A doctor again discharged her with a diagnosis of "classic migraine headache." She returned six days later with even more heightened symptoms, and reported also having numbness in her tongue. Even though doctors eventually placed her at the defendant Concord Hospital, they continued to inexplicably fail to perform a brain scan, per the complaint. The complaint alleges nine different times when the doctors had the opportunity to order a brain scan but failed to do it.

The scan was not performed until the teen's brain had swollen to such a size as to destroy all neurologic function. The complaint describes that the doctors performed physical tests that the patient failed, and yet the indicated scan was not done. The critical issue in the case will be causation and the issue of whether the patient would have died regardless of whether a brain scan had been timely administered. In Oregon and most states, if the late diagnosis causes a substantial loss of years from the patient's life that could have been avoided by timely medical treatment, that loss is subject to a recovery.

Source: concordmonitor.com, "Family of Molly Banzhoff sues Concord Hospital, alleging medical negligence", Ella Nilsen, Jan. 16, 2017