How Does Misdiagnosis or Mismanagement of Diabetes Occur?

Around 280 Australians develop diabetes each day, making it one of the largest challenges consuming Australia's health system. However, diabetes is a liveable disease, provided:

  • It is diagnosed and treated correctly; and 
  • Accurate advice is obtained on how to effectively and proactively manage the disease.

Unfortunately, sometimes diabetes can be misdiagnosed and mismanaged by health practitioners. If you believe you have suffered an injury as a result of a health practitioner's negligence, you may be entitled to make a medical negligence claim. 

The symptoms of diabetes have been likened to those evident in many other medical conditions, meaning sometimes doctors can miss the signs. 

Common symptoms of diabetes can include - 

  • Extreme hunger;
  • Blurry vision;
  • Extreme fatigue;
  • Excessive urination at night;
  • Increased infections;
  • Numbness or tingling in hands or feet;
  • Extreme thirst;
  • Unprecedented weight loss; and
  • Delayed healing with sores.

Additionally, a health professional may overlook a particular diabetes diagnosis because the patient:

  • Has no family history of obesity;
  • Is not obese; 
  • Does not have high blood pressure; and 
  • Does not have high cholesterol. 

This information may assist a health professional in making a determination of a diagnosis, however, this list is not exhaustive. A health professional still has a duty of care to undertake all necessary tests and adhere to uniform standards. 

Research has evidenced that more than one-third of patients with type 1 diabetes after the age of 30 were initially treated for type 2. While not injurious in all cases, a misdiagnosis of the types may lead to persisting health problems if not treated correctly. 

What Are the Consequences That May Arise?

The consequences of mismanaged or misdiagnosed diabetes can be severe. Treatment of diabetes requires precise insulin intake so as to regulate the glucose to ensure levels do not result in any unwanted health complications. A health practitioner's negligence may be causative of heart disease, a stroke, vision impairment, nerve damage and decreased blood flow which could result in amputation. 

What Kind of Causation Issues Arise When Pursuing This Type of Claim?

A health practitioner will be liable if your injury is found to be caused as a result of their negligence. If you can prove the negligence of the health professional led to a preventable injury, it is probable you have a medical negligence claim. 

However, just because a health practitioner incorrectly diagnoses your condition, that doesn't necessarily mean you have grounds for a medical negligence claim. It must be proven that the health professional acted in a way that fell below the reasonable standard, which then resulted in a breach. To determine what is considered the industry standard, it is typically necessary to obtain instruction and advice from an expert in the field so they can provide advice on how the health care professional departed from the standard. 

For the healthcare professional to be liable for your injury, it is necessary to prove that, but for the negligence of the health professional, the harm concurrent with the negligence would not have occurred. 

If accurate medical treatment and relief are appropriately provided to a patient after an incorrect initial diagnosis, it is unlikely a medical negligence claim would succeed. This is because the patient would be unlikely to have suffered sufficient damage or injury as a result of the original "negligence" of the health practitioner.

If you believe you have suffered an injury as a result of a health practitioner's negligence associated with your diabetes diagnosis or management, feel free to contact us here

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