Misdiagnosis a Common Cause of Medical Malpractice

microscope.jpgA frequent type of medical malpractice is the misdiagnosis of a patient’s condition by healthcare providers. A new survey clearly illustrates this point.

CRICO Strategies, a division of the company that insures Harvard University hospitals, recently announced the findings of its research into medical misdiagnosis. The study included over 23,500 cases of medical malpractice claims between 2008 and 2012.

Researchers found 20 percent of the claims were due to misdiagnosis. Surgical errors accounted for 28 percent of the medical malpractice claims examined in the study.

Top Settings for Patient Misdiagnosis

Researchers broke down the instances of medical misdiagnosis into three setting categories:

• Ambulatory, or outpatient, care

• Emergency room care

• Hospital inpatient treatment

Outpatient care was by far the largest source for diagnostic errors, representing 57 percent of the claims. Inpatient care was second at 26 percent of the cases and the ER third with 16 percent.

Family care doctors and internists were responsible for the lion’s share of medical misdiagnosis claims, who were linked by the study’s authors to almost half of the outpatient care errors.

Top Causes for Diagnosis Mistakes

As to why the patient misdiagnosis mistakes were made in the outpatient setting, researchers reported the top causes to include:

• Lapses in clinical judgment, such as failure to order a test or misinterpreting a test result

• Communication breakdowns

Parenthetically, another recent study found that pathologists often make errors when diagnosing breast tissue, leading to treatment for breast cancer when there is no need, or not providing necessary care when a patient has cancer. Researchers claim that pathologists misdiagnosed abnormal cells about half the time.

When a patient is not correctly diagnosed, other medical steps provided or not provided may compound the problem and lead to a terrible outcome. If you believe a loved one was killed or suffered catastrophic harm due to poor medical judgment, an attorney experienced in medical misdiagnosis investigations can help you pursue just compensation via a medical malpractice lawsuit.

The choice of a lawyer is an important decision that should not be based solely on advertising.