Diagnostic Error: Number One Reason for Medical Malpractice Claims

October 20th, 2014 at 7:00 am

diagnostic error, misdiagnosis, permanent disabilities, Westport medical malpractice attorney, malpractice claimsA study conducted by researchers at John Hopkins University School of Medicine reveals that the most dangerous and costly mistakes made by doctors are diagnostic errors. According to the study, more than 160,000 people die in the United States each year because of physician misdiagnosis.

A diagnostic error can hamper the treatment of a patient’s condition and can cause serious injury or even death.

The research team examined more than 350,000 paid-out malpractice claims which had occurred between 1986 through 2010. They obtained the information from the National Practitioner Data Bank. The majority of the claims paid outX—28.6 percent—were due to misdiagnosis or failure to diagnose on the part of physicians. These claims typically resulted in extreme harm to the patient.

These claims were also the highest paid out claims and accounted for 35 percent of the total amount of medical malpractice claims paid. The payout of diagnostic error claims totaled almost $40 billion.

There were 69 percent of outpatient diagnostic error claims and 31 inpatient claims. There were more deaths that occurred for the inpatient claims.

The majority of diagnostic errors analyzed in the study were classified as failed diagnosis, with misdiagnosis errors coming in second. Errors involving neurological diagnosis were the most common.

The head of the research team, Dr. David E. Newman-Toker, an associate professor of neurology at Johns Hopkins University, estimates that diagnostic errors occur in almost 15 percent of patients on their initial visit to a doctor for a new medical issue.

Dr. Newman-Toker said of his team’s findings, “Overall, diagnostic errors have been under appreciated and under-recognized because they’re difficult to measure and keep track of owing to the frequent gap between the time the error occurs and when it’s detected. These are frequent problems that have played second fiddle to medical and surgical errors, which are evident more immediately.”

If you have suffered permanent disabilities or illness due to a diagnostic error, you may be entitled to compensation. Contact an experienced Westport medical malpractice attorney to discuss your legal options.

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