Misdiagnosis the Number One Reason for Medical Malpractice Claims

February 13th, 2014 at 9:38 pm

misdiagnosis IMAGEA study by John Hopkins University reveals that the most common error made by physicians is misdiagnosis, which often leads to permanent disability or even death. The study also found that misdiagnosis is also the number one reason for malpractice claims, accounting for 35 percent of those claims. Between 1986 and 2011, there was almost $39 billion paid out to patients and their families for physician misdiagnosis.

The medical community, realizing that most of these errors are preventable, is focusing on fixing the reasons those errors occur.  Computers and automation are a big component of ensuring misdiagnoses doesn’t occur. Having computers automatically analyze medical records searching for possible oversights or other mistakes by doctors is one way. Alerting doctors to make sure they follow up on questionable lab results is another way automation can help alleviate these errors.

There is also a different trend in the way doctors are being trained. Instead of deciding on just one diagnosis for a presented set of symptoms, they are now being trained to not be so quick to put a definite label on  symptoms and to keep an open-mind, even as treatment is occurring. The Society to Improve Diagnosis in Medicine is in the process of developing a curriculum for medical schools that will help physicians in training develop their diagnostic skills. It will also help reveal to the schools whether these future doctors are competent in their field.

It is hoped that the new health care law will also curb physician misdiagnosis since the law requires all of a patient’s medical providers to coordinate his or her care.

Other solutions include running automatic queries of patient records that meet certain criteria (i.e. abnormal blood tests), utilizing electronic decision-support programs to help with diagnosis, new and improved testing apparatus and also stressing the importance of doctor/patient communication.

If you’ve suffered permanent disabilities because of a doctor’s misdiagnosis, you may be entitled to compensation. Contact a Westport medical malpractice attorney to find out what legal options you may have.

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