Diagnostic errors have been found to be the most abundant and most serious of all medical errors. New research indicates that these mistakes may be prevented simply with better communication and respect from medical care providers.
In 2013, researchers at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine reviewed 25 years of payouts in medical malpractice lawsuits (“25-Year summary of US malpractice claims for diagnostic errors 1986–2010: an analysis from the National Practitioner Data Bank”). The researchers determined that mistakes made with diagnoses – such as a wrong diagnosis, a missed diagnosis or a delayed diagnosis – accounted for the largest portion of these claims.
From 1986 to 2010, according to the research, medical malpractice lawsuit payments made to patients hurt or killed by diagnostic errors totaled nearly $40 billion.
160,000 Patients Injured Seriously By Misdiagnosis Each Year
Based on this data, researchers also concluded that the number of patients who die or suffered serious and permanent injuries from preventable diagnostic mistakes is as high as 160,000 each year.
So what can be done to prevent these serious medical errors?
According to a new study, better listening to patients by doctors is an important step to avoiding dangerous misdiagnoses.
Published by Health Affairs, a medical journal, the new research (“Learning From Patients’ Experiences Related To Diagnostic Errors Is Essential For Progress In Patient Safety”) reviewed 184 encounters related by patients or their family members about their experiences with a diagnostic error that occurred from January 2010 to February 2016. In short, the researchers listened to complaints about the patients’ medical treatment.
Doctors Who Ignore or Disrespect Their Patients
The researchers identified numerous instances of unprofessional behavior and communication breakdowns that led to a serious diagnostic error:
· Ignoring patient knowledge – 92 times the patients or their families relayed instances when caregivers ignored or disregarded patient symptoms or changing conditions that should have been warning signs
· Patient disrespect – some diagnostic errors were found tied to instances when caregivers belittled or mocked their patients
· Communication breakdowns – physicians who stopped communicating with patients and their families, either in person or over the phone, represented another common patient complaint
· Patient deception – other narratives provided by patients who suffered a mistake in diagnosis, or their families, included instances when care givers tried to use fear to guide care decisions or when they were misled or misinformed by physicians
Patients and their families trust medical care givers to be knowledgeable and correct when providing treatment. They shouldn’t have to worry about the improper conduct of their caregivers; actions and attitudes that can cause them great harm.
If you had a family member die during medical treatment and you suspect and error in care was made, contact a medical malpractice attorney to protect you legal rights.
The choice of a lawyer is an important decision that should not be based solely on advertisements.
Authored by Gray, Ritter & Graham, P.C., posted in Blog November 19, 2018