One of the most common types of medical malpractice in New York City and elsewhere is the failure of the physician to diagnose a serious illness. In a recent publication by the Journal of the American Medical Association, the researchers identified the ten most common missed or delayed diagnoses. A review of these findings provides a very helpful guide to identifying instances of medical malpractice.
The top ten
The study used data culled from patient safety incident reports, malpractice claims, and mortality and morbidity conferences. The researchers found 836 diagnostic errors, and from that group of cases, they were able to identify the 10 most common missed diagnoses.
The five most common missed diagnoses are colorectal cancer, lung and breast cancer, heart attack and prostate cancer. The next five most common missed diagnoses are stroke, sepsis, bladder cancer, pulmonary embolism and brain hemorrhage.
In addition to identifying the most commonly overlooked diagnoses, the study concluded that 12 million American adults are misdiagnosed annually in outpatient settings. Another estimate concluded that 40,000 to 80,000 persons die each year from diagnostic failures.
Does a missed diagnosis constitute medical malpractice?
Not every instance of a missed diagnosis constitutes medical malpractice. Many instances of a missed diagnosis are the result of missed communications between the patient and doctor; the patient may not have given the physician a complete or accurate description of the symptoms. In some cases, an improper or incorrect test is ordered by the physician.
Anyone who feels that they or a loved one was subject to a missed diagnosis may wish to consult an attorney experienced in handling malpractice cases. A knowledgeable lawyer can evaluate the pertinent medical records or send them to a qualified expert for review and an opinion as to whether a professional error has occurred.