Mistaken diagnosis can be a major malpractice concern

For patients in Missouri, one of the most concerning aspects of going to the hospital could be the dangers posed by misdiagnosis and other kinds of medical errors. Across the United States, errors related to diagnosis are the most common source of medical malpractice claims, says a new study produced by a medical malpractice insurance company. When reviewing claims filed between 2013 and 2017, the report said that a full 33 percent related to errors made when diagnosing the patient, including misdiagnosis or a failure to diagnose a severe illness such as cancer.

Of these claims, the report said that around half involved bad decisions made by the doctors and other health professionals. Of course, misdiagnosis is not the only concern; the second most common source of malpractice complaints, amounting to 24 percent of the total, were surgical errors or other issues with medical procedures, while medical management complaints amounted for 14 percent. While other types of claims have declined over time, diagnostic error lawsuits have remained steady.

The report reviewed a total of 10,618 malpractice lawsuits. Among the claims related to misdiagnosis, 36 percent involved the death of a patient. One-third of complaints related to diagnostic errors included doctors who failed to perform a thorough evaluation of the patient's medical condition, including relevant family history. Lab testing was a recurring issue, and 52 percent of all claims involved elements of lab test mistakes, including poorly performed tests or misinterpreted results.

For people who have received an incorrect diagnosis, the results can be life-changing; failing to receive accurate treatment can put patients' health and lives at risk. Patients who have experienced a worsened health condition due to their doctor's failure to accurately diagnose their illness may benefit from consulting with a medical malpractice attorney. A lawyer may be able to provide a thorough review of the case and advise the patient about further action that could potentially be taken.

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