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Misdiagnoses are leading cause of medical malpractice claims

Delayed or inaccurate diagnoses are responsible for more than a third of all medical malpractice claims in the United States, where the patient died or was severely disabled, according to a recent white paper study.

The research was funded by the Society to Improve Diagnosis in Medicine, which reviewed nearly 56,000 medical malpractice claims from 2006 to 2015 and found more than 11,000 alleged diagnostic errors.

Most claims involve the “Big Three”

Of the 11,592 potential diagnostic errors studied in the report, 74% involved the so-called Big Three conditions:

  • Cancer
  • Vascular events, such as heart attack or stroke
  • Infections

Study details where mistakes are more likely to happen

While diagnostic errors can occur everywhere and involve every disease, researchers found cancer is the most commonly missed diagnosis at outpatient clinics. Malpractice claims resulting from vascular issues were more likely to come from emergency rooms and hospital inpatient settings.

A separate report by insurer Coverys found that emergency rooms are responsible for 47% of all medical malpractice claims over diagnosis-related errors, and 33% of all claims that are filed. The study notes that one out of every two inpatient admissions begins in the ER.

Federal spending isn’t enough to address the problem

The study’s lead researcher says misdiagnoses are the most common, most costly and most catastrophic medical errors. David Newman-Toker added federal agencies currently spend less than $10 million on research to prevent diagnosis-related mistakes, which is not even close to what is needed.

Recent studies estimate that as many as 12 million Americans seeking outpatient medical care are misdiagnosed each year, that’s one out of every 20 adult patients. If your condition or illness has been misdiagnosed, an experienced medical malpractice attorney here in Ohio will work to make sure the doctor and other medical professionals are held accountable and will seek justice for you and your family.