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Medical malpractice lawsuits fueled by misdiagnoses

Emergency rooms in New York hospitals are filled with people who are either experiencing chronic pain or are in need of some other type of medical care that cannot wait. When emergency room mistakes occur, such as misdiagnoses, the patient may be at grave risk. A wrong diagnosis can lead to a prescription error, a delay in the patient receiving the right kind of treatment and even death if the right diagnosis is never found.

A recent study showed that the majority of medical malpractice lawsuits in which the patient received compensation, are due to diagnostic errors. The survey covered a 25-year period and involved the examination of over 300,000 medical malpractice errors; it was unknown how many of the errors involving diagnosis issues occurred at emergency rooms in hospitals and clinics.

The study revealed that doctors routinely missed diagnoses on serious issues such as brainstem stroke, ectopic pregnancy, and aortic dissection. In fact, 41 percent of the lawsuits involved a patient who died and other studies conducted on autopsies suggest that 10-20 percent of fatalities are caused by missed diagnoses. Currently no reporting system exists for urgent care mistakes or emergency room errors concerning diagnostic problems.

Hopefully this study will attract the attention from the medical industry that it deserves and new measures will be implemented to improve the medical care that a patient receives when they come to an emergency room or clinic. Only by being aware of the problem that diagnostic issues create can the health care industry address it. For anyone who has suffered because of a missed diagnosis, they may want to seek help from an experienced attorney.

Source: The Washington Post, “Diagnostic errors are leading cause of successful malpractice claims,” David Brown, April 22, 2013

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