Most women (and many men), realize that urinary tract infections (UTIs) are common. While uncomfortable and troubling, they are easily treatable.
Except when they aren’t. UTIs have the potential to cause serious complications in a patient’s health when they last very long, and they can be easily overlooked by doctors who aren’t paying attention.
How can a doctor miss a urinary tract infection?
Commonly, doctors use what’s called a “dipstick” test. A small strip of paper is inserted in a sample of the patient’s urine to look for signs of infection. But research indicates that those tests miss between 50% and 80% of cases. Women, in particular, can end up with chronic, but hidden, urinary tract infections that don’t show up in ordinary urine tests.
What problems can untreated urinary tract infections cause?
A hidden UTI that’s left to flourish can cause all kinds of complications for the patient — some of them fatal. Patients may be left with chronic pain and difficulty urinating. The infection can also spread to their kidneys and cause lasting damage with the functions of those organs.
Even worse, an untreated UTI in older adults can lead to symptoms that are dismissed as age-related or the onset of dementia. When an older person develops sudden confusion, starts falling and has personality changes, doctors can be quick to dismiss the idea that there’s a treatable problem. The lack of appropriate treatment can ultimately lead to sepsis and death.
If your loved one’s doctor failed them in a tragic and entirely preventable fashion, it may be time to talk to an attorney. A medical malpractice or wrongful death claim may be the only real way to hold a negligent medical provider accountable for their lapses.