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25-Year Study Shows Diagnostic Errors are More Common and Harmful Than Other Types of Medical Malpractice

All good medical decisions and treatment rely on timely and accurate diagnoses. Yet, all too often, healthcare providers fail to accurately diagnose serious conditions in time to begin potentially life-saving treatment. In many cases, incorrect diagnoses result in incorrect treatments or no treatment at all. Diagnoses are at the core of all medical treatment, and it turns out diagnostic failure may be at the core of a majority of medical malpractice cases.

A 2013 report published by a prominent medical school reveals diagnostic errors as potentially the biggest patient safety and medical malpractice problem in the United States. The study, led by a doctor at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, looked at 25 years of medical malpractice claims that resulted in payouts, and it revealed some disturbing trends, including:

  • Diagnostic errors represented 28.6 percent of paid claims.
  • Diagnostic errors resulted in death or disability almost twice as often as any other type of medical malpractice errors.
  • Outpatient care resulted in diagnostic error more often than inpatient care, although inpatient diagnostic errors were more likely to be lethal.
  • Most cases involved missed diagnoses, rather than delayed or wrong ones.

All patients should learn an important lesson from these findings: unless you have a good reason to fully concur, seek a second opinion from a medical provider not connected to the original one - and never walk away without a diagnosis. If you suffer injury or lose a loved one due to the failure of a healthcare provider, seek advice and support from an experienced medical malpractice attorney. Whether you reside in Illinois, Wisconsin or elsewhere in the United States, you need support from a lawyer who is knowledgeable in the laws of your state.

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