Medical Malpractice for Misdiagnosis or Mismanagement of Diabetes

Posted on behalf of Peter T. Nicholl in Medical Malpractice Published on June 19, 2024 and updated on June 27, 2024.

diabetes tracking suppliesWhile patients play a critical role in managing diabetes, doctors also have a vital responsibility. They have a legal obligation to make a timely diagnosis of this severe medical condition and to properly manage the illness.

When doctors do not take the proper steps to treat patients with diabetes, they could be engaging in medical malpractice. This can have severe consequences for patients, from kidney failure and cardiovascular disease to death.

Do you suspect your doctors have engaged in medical malpractice? Contact The Law Offices of Peter T. Nicholl to discuss if you might have legal recourse. Our Maryland medical malpractice lawyers have secured millions of dollars in compensation for medical malpractice victims in Maryland and there are no upfront costs with our services.

Schedule your free legal consultation today. Call us at: 410-297-0271.

The Dangers of Diabetes—An Overview

Diabetes is a chronic medical condition that causes the body to not produce enough insulin or prevents the body from using insulin effectively. Insulin is a hormone that converts sugar, starches and other foods into energy.

There are two types of diabetes:

  • Type 1 Diabetes: Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease in which the immune system destroys insulin-producing beta cells in the pancreas. This form of diabetes is much less common than type 2.
  • Type 2 Diabetes: While this condition is more common in adults, there has been an alarming increase in type 2 diabetes in children. If you have type 2 diabetes, your body is still able to produce insulin but has become resistant to it. This means the body needs to use more insulin to help glucose enter cells.

Medication and lifestyle changes enable some people to properly manage their diabetes. However, diabetes puts you at higher risk of a variety of health issues. For instance, elevated blood sugar levels can cause damage to the:

  • Heart
  • Kidneys
  • Eyes

Chronic mismanagement of diabetes could cause kidney failure and loss of vision. Additionally, diabetics are at increased risk for nerve damage, which can result in numbness or pain, particularly in the limbs.

Diabetes patients are at higher risk of infections, as this condition slows down their ability to heal. This means minor injuries could potentially become much more severe. Some patients could suffer strokes or develop high blood pressure.

How Doctors Could Misdiagnose or Delay Diagnosis of Diabetes

While doctors treat a wide range of medical conditions, it is generally true that prompt diagnosis leads to better patient outcomes. Unfortunately, doctors may misdiagnose or delay diagnosis of diabetes for various reasons.

  • Failing To Order the Necessary Tests: If doctors have reasons to suspect diabetes, they typically order a blood glucose test. This test measures the concentration of glucose in the blood. Often, a blood glucose test follows a urine test to determine if the patient has high glucose levels.
  • Misinterpreting Test Results: A physician might, for instance, mistake an elevated blood glucose test result for a normal one.
  • Failing To Recognize the Symptoms: Fatigue, thirst, weight loss and frequent urination are hallmark symptoms of diabetes. However, these symptoms are also present with other medical conditions. For example, Cushing’s syndrome causes the body to produce excessive cortisol, which can result in unexplained weight loss and fatigue. This is why doctors need to do a thorough differential diagnosis to determine what is going on with the patient.
  • Failing to Refer a Patient to a Specialist for Further Assessment: When patients begin experiencing symptoms of diabetes, they often meet with a primary care doctor. However, these doctors are often not equipped to accurately diagnose diabetes. They need to refer patients to specialists, like an endocrinologist. Failing to do so may result in a longer wait for a diagnosis, which also delays treatment.

Mismanaging the Treatment of Diabetes

Even if doctors make a timely diagnosis of diabetes, they could mismanage treatment, putting the patient at higher risk of severe injuries.

Neglecting To Monitor Blood Glucose Levels

Routine monitoring helps doctors to keep these levels in the appropriate range. For example, doctors could adjust the patient’s medication, including the dosage and even the brand.

Neglecting To Adjust Insulin Dosage

A physician is expected to modify insulin dosages for diabetic patients as necessary to maintain controlled blood glucose levels. Failure to do so can result in hyperglycemia or hypoglycemia, which may lead to severe complications.

Not Adequately Warning of the Risks of Diabetes

A physician is expected to properly inform patients about the risks of diabetes and the dangers of failing to manage the condition appropriately. If patients are not properly informed, they are at risk for making decisions that could cause severe complications.

Not Conducting or Recommending Regular Checkups

Doctors need to do comprehensive checkups on a regular basis to evaluate patients’ kidney function, eye health and cardiovascular health. Regular evaluations can help doctors to prevent the progression of life-threatening complications.

If you suspect your doctors have mismanaged your diabetes treatment and you have suffered severe injuries, there may be a medical malpractice case. Contact our firm to discuss possible legal options.

Consequences of Mismanaging Diabetes Treatment

There are many severe complications that could arise when doctors fail to properly manage a patient’s diabetes. This means doctors failed to provide medical care that meets accepted medical standards.

  • Cardiovascular disease is the primary cause of death for those with diabetes, as elevated blood glucose levels can damage blood vessels, causing atherosclerosis. This condition impairs blood flow to the heart, brain and other vital organs. Patients suffering from cardiovascular disease have a higher risk of a heart attack or stroke.
  • Impaired vision or blindness could result from damage to the blood vessels in the retina. This can cause diabetic retinopathy.
  • Kidney failure can happen when blood sugar levels are too high for too long. This puts tremendous strain on the kidneys and can impair their function.
  • Neuropathy refers to impaired functioning of the nerves, which can cause numbness and weakness. Patients may also suffer gastrointestinal distress because the nerves in the digestive system have been damaged.

Do You Have a Valid Medical Malpractice Lawsuit?

Do you believe your diabetes could have been diagnosed earlier or treatment could have been managed better? If you have suffered severe complications from a delayed diagnosis or mismanaged treatment, there may be grounds for a medical malpractice lawsuit.

Your lawyer needs to determine if doctors failed to uphold the standard of care for your treatment. This essentially means doctors did not act as another medical professional would have in a similar situation.

Your lawyer will need to consult a medical expert to determine the appropriate treatment for someone in your situation and whether doctors failed to provide that treatment. For example, did they misinterpret test results, fail to adjust your medication or fail to refer you to a specialist?

You must also connect your treatment to the complications. You need to show that these complications would not have occurred or would have been less severe if doctors had met the standard of care.

The only way to know if you may have a valid case is to contact an experienced lawyer to review your situation.

Call Us To Learn More About Possible Legal Options

When doctors mismanage diabetes treatment, it can have devastating consequences. Victims are likely to experience further complications and injuries that lower their quality of life.

Our Maryland law firm is dedicated to supporting injured victims, including those injured by medical malpractice. We have a deep understanding of the relevant laws and how to construct a robust case.

We offer a free initial legal consultation to discuss your specific circumstances and evaluate how we may be able to assist you.

Contact our firm today to learn more. No upfront costs or fees. Phone: 410-297-0271.