Inaccurate and delayed diagnoses are to blame for more than a third of all medical malpractice claims. Of these, 74% are diagnostic errors related to one of three conditions — cancer, vascular events and infection. Washington residents should know that this was the conclusion of a study published on July 11 in the peer-reviewed journal Diagnosis.
Researchers looked at 55,000 malpractice claims filed from 2006 to 2015, isolating the nearly 16,000 claims relating to diagnostic errors. Previous research had shown that the “Big Three” are responsible for some of the most serious harm among the victims of misdiagnosis, which is why the study focused on these conditions. Cancer was behind 37.8% of the claims, vascular events behind 22.8% and infection behind 13.5%.
Lung cancer, the most frequently cited cancer in these claims, was found to be especially prone to misdiagnosis in primary care. Stroke, the most commonly cited vascular event, can prove a challenge in emergency departments while sepsis, the most common infection in these claims, was often misdiagnosed in hospitals.
Tackling misdiagnosis in these three specific situations could do much to reduce the number of patient injuries and deaths each year. However, improving diagnoses may require a collaborative approach that even includes the efforts of patients and their families.
Someone who incurs a serious injury because of a diagnostic error may want to see an attorney who practices medical malpractice law. While a victim may have good grounds for a claim, they will need to prove that the doctor was negligent and that this negligence is tied to the injuries. An attorney could help in this matter by bringing in third parties like investigators and medical experts. The attorney may also strive for a fair settlement covering medical expenses, pain and suffering and other losses.