Diagnostic Errors And Medical Malpractice Injuries

Posted on: 2 September 2019

If you're like most people, you probably think of medical malpractice as being something that largely happens in operating rooms—where a surgeon makes a mistake, operates on the wrong site or wrong patient. Or, maybe you tend to think of poor follow-up care, where nurses fail to monitor a patient's post-surgical condition or pass out the wrong medication.

In reality, your biggest risk of becoming a medical malpractice victim is in your doctor's office or while sitting in the emergency room getting a diagnosis.

How much of a problem are diagnostic errors?

The scary thing is that nobody really knows how many diagnostic errors end up doing substantial injury to patients. The estimates range somewhere between 40,000 times a year and 4 million times a year!

The majority of misdiagnoses center around what researchers call the "Big Three" medical conditions:

  1. Vascular events, like strokes or heart attacks
  2. Infections, like sepsis
  3. Cancers, including uterine, throat, lung, etc.

A misdiagnosis involving one of these diseases (usually meaning that the disease is missed and the patient is told they have something else that is much more trivial) accounts for 3/4 of serious personal injuries to patients related to misdiagnosis.

What happens when a patient is misdiagnosed?

Generally speaking, a patient whose real condition is misdiagnosed ends up suffering one or more of the following problems:

  • They may end up taking medication that is, at best, useless for their condition. At worst, the medication could make their condition even worse.
  • They may lose their best window of opportunity to treat their condition, making a worse outcome almost certain.
  • They may end up with a longer hospital stay—with larger hospital bills and a longer recovery period—as their condition worsens and they seek new treatment.
  • They may die as a result of inadequate or incorrect medical care.

The newest research is an eye-opener for medical professionals, but it should also be a warning call for patients. Anyone who isn't satisfied with their diagnosis needs to be proactive about seeking a second opinion right away.

What happens if you or your loved one was injured by a misdiagnosis?

Medical misdiagnosis claims need to be evaluated by a personal injury attorney. Often, you may not know for sure that a hospital or doctor made an error, but an attorney can often access information more easily than patients or their loved ones. 

If you suspect that misdiagnosis played a part in your medical injuries or the death of a loved one, talk to a personal injury lawyer today.

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