Female patient having consultation with neurologist in office

When you have a headache that just won’t go away, or your mother is experiencing worrisome memory problems, or your spouse is having sudden balance issues, you may find yourself in a neurologist’s office. Neurologists are medical doctors who specialize in the brain, spinal cord, and peripheral nerves.

Neurologists and neurosurgeons are among the most highly paid medical specialists, and they should be: a neurological disorder can affect every aspect of your life, from your ability to process language to your ability to move and walk. It’s not an exaggeration to say that a mistake by a neurologist could change the course of your life—and it could be medical malpractice.

Common Mistakes in Neurology

Neurological disorders include Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), migraines, brain tumors, Alzheimer’s disease, multiple sclerosis (MS), muscular dystrophy, cerebral palsy, and more. The diagnosis and treatment of neurological conditions can be complicated; while some are caused by trauma, including birth injuries, many neurological issues can be trickier to pin down.

For instance, lots of things can cause headaches, from dehydration to brain tumors. Muscular weakness may be caused by a pinched nerve, or by a serious degenerative neurological disease. The process of ruling out some causes of symptoms and diagnosing a disease can be painstaking. A neurologist who fails to follow the standard of care may misdiagnose a patient or fail to identify a serious condition that requires immediate or urgent treatment.

Many of the mistakes made by neurologists have to do with the missed diagnosis or misdiagnosis of a neurological condition. They include:

Failure to Order Appropriate Diagnostic Tests

Doctors are frequently accused of ordering unnecessary tests to run up patient’s bills and avoid liability, but sometimes, doctors fail to order tests that are appropriate under the circumstances. For instance, a patient who presents with textbook symptoms of cauda equina syndrome should promptly undergo magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). Failing to order appropriate testing in a timely fashion can lead to a condition worsening and even to permanent neurological damage.

Failure to Properly Interpret Diagnostic Information

Even if a neurologist orders the appropriate tests and scans, failing to accurately read and interpret this data can cause a doctor to miss a serious condition, or mistreat a condition that is identified.

Failure to Account for How a Patient’s Other Conditions May Affect Treatment

If, as often happens, a patient has multiple health issues, other conditions may affect how a neurological condition is diagnosed and treated. A neurologist’s failure to take multiple health conditions (called “comorbidities”) of a patient into account may result in a misdiagnosis, delayed diagnosis, or inappropriate treatment.

Prescribing the Wrong Medication

Even if a neurologist accurately diagnoses a patient’s condition, there exists the possibility that they may order a medication or other treatment that is ineffective or has adverse effects. This can delay the patient getting the help they need, or may even cause other serious health problems for the patient.

Failure to Adequately Communicate with the Patient

We all know that doctors and their staff are busy. Things slip through the cracks. But when medical providers fail to communicate fully, promptly, and accurately with their patients, the patient may delay or forgo treatment, and serious damage can result.

Surgical Errors

If a neurological condition is diagnosed and surgery is necessary to treat or correct it, an error by a neurosurgeon may not only fail to help the patient, but may cause further injury.

If you or a loved one has been injured by one of these medical mistakes, or suspect you may have been, you need to take action swiftly to preserve any rights you may have.

What to Do if Your Neurologist Has Made a Mistake

Not all negative outcomes in medicine are the result of medical malpractice. However, some are, and mistakes by neurologists can have some of the most devastating outcomes. Just as neurological conditions can be challenging to diagnose, it can be difficult to know whether your outcome was an unavoidable complication or a mistake by your doctor.

Unfortunately, if your injury was caused by medical malpractice, you must file a claim before the statute of limitations expires. Otherwise, your claim will be barred, no matter how serious your injury or how great your damages.

The wisest course of action is to consult an experienced medical malpractice attorney if you even suspect medical malpractice. An attorney can advise you about whether you may have a claim that should be pursued. If there may be a viable claim, your attorney will be able to investigate and to gather the information necessary to prove your claim.

To learn more about neurologist malpractice, or medical malpractice in general, please contact The Fraser Law Firm P.C. to schedule a consultation.