In 2012, a certain patient went to see her doctor and complained of a numb leg. She thought that the numbness in her leg was a side effect of the medication that she was then taking (her medicine is known to cause blood-clotting). Her doctor declared that she needed no treatment though he noted the difficulty in finding a pulse in her foot. Eventually, the clot caused the tissues in woman’s leg to die; it did not take very long after she was told that her leg had to be amputated.
Amputation is a type of surgical procedure wherein the whole or a part of a limb, like the arm, hand, finger, leg, foot, or toe is cut. The leading cause of amputation is poor blood circulation, which may be due to the narrowing of the arteries or damage to the arteries (this is called peripheral arterial disease). Due to poor blood circulation, the cells in the affected body part do not get the needed oxygen and the nutrients that these need, resulting to tissue death and possible infection.
Though a limb or a part of a limb is lost, amputation can be a life-saving solution as it can prevent infections or cancers from spreading; it can also prevent foot ulcers from leading to serious infections, such as in the case of a diabetic. However, due to the complications or risks of amputation, besides the inconveniences and disadvantages in the life of a patient, amputating a limb will only be recommended by a doctor if it is really necessary, meaning, it is the correct treatment needed by a patient.
There are times, however, when amputation is performed, not because it is required, but because a mistake has been committed – a mistake committed by a doctor. Mistakes committed by medical professionals are results of improper treatment, a situation wherein a doctor has correctly diagnosed a patient’s health condition and, therefore, knows exactly what this patient’s health problem is; however, for reasons that only he/she knows, he/she provides the patient with a wrong treatment.
Improper treatment may be committed by:
- Delaying, rushing, or performing an unnecessary or a dangerous treatment;
- Prescribing a drug to a patient despite such patient’s known allergy to such drug;
- Giving a patient the wrong dose of a drug;
- Inadequate monitoring of a patient; and,
- Failing to take the necessary measures that will prevent a disease.
Karlin, Fleisher & Falkenberg explain why a correct diagnosis if far more important than the prompt diagnosis of a medical condition. Sad to say, however, but there are serious health conditions that get misdiagnosed, with patients ending up undergoing treatments that they do not actually need. Apart from the significant consequences a patient may suffer from not having his/her medical condition treated, it is also possible that the wrong treatment itself could be dangerous to the patient.