A recent study published in BMJ Quality & Safety found diagnostic errors (wrong diagnosis, no diagnosis, and delayed diagnosis) to be the number one cause of medical malpractice. Researchers at the John Hopkins University School of Medicine studied over 350,000 successful claims from 1987 to 2010 before coming to this conclusion. Medical malpractice occurs when a healthcare professional makes a mistake or oversight that causes an injury or illness in the patient. Some examples of malpractice include failure to treat an illness or injury, administration of the wrong medicine, failure to properly inform the patient of risks and alternative treatments, and of course, misdiagnosis. According to the same study, medical malpractice payouts have totaled almost 39 billion dollars during the past 25 years. Misdiagnosis is not only the most common, but also the most expensive medical malpractice claim. It is estimated that missed or wrong diagnoses make up 35 percent of total payments awarded. In addition, is the most likely to lead to death and long term disability. The research reported that permanent disability and death are completely preventable in as many as 160,000 cases of misdiagnosis each year.
Injuries Caused by Misdiagnosis
Missed or delayed diagnosis can lead to deadly consequences later on. The most common conditions this causes is cancer and heart attacks that could have been prevented. Both of these diseases can often be prevented or decreased in severity if caught early on. Misdiagnosis can cause a range of other illnesses and injuries, including:
- -Wrong-site surgery
- -Increased severity of illness
- -Heart attack
- -Other injury or illness that was completely preventable
This new study is a wakeup call and a much-needed reminder for doctors and healthcare professionals to make correct diagnosis a priority and put a conscious effort to avoid mistakes. Once a patient receives a misdiagnosis, their chances of receiving proper treatment are dramatically decreased. The mistake can turn fatal when symptoms of life-threatening illnesses are overlooked. One example: An extreme headache ignored by a medical worker could really be an early sign of brain aneurysm.
How to Prevent Misdiagnosis
Patients can never prevent misdiagnosis if it is the result of a blatant error by their healthcare professional. However, there are some preventive measures patients can take to decrease their chances:
- -Become an advocate for your own health.
- -Inquire about your test resultsProvide an accurate medical history.
- -Ask questions and make sure you understand instructions.
- -Question your doctor about the diagnosis and ask if there’s any other possibility, especially if you feel your symptoms are extreme or abnormal.
- -Follow-up with your doctor after treatment.
- -Always attend return appointments.
Your healthcare professional should do their part too: It’s important for doctors to give their patients adequate attention and listen to what they have to say.
Next Steps for Victims of Misdiagnosis
If you are concerned you may have been a victim of misdiagnosis, there are a few things you can do:
- -Write down the details and dates of your medical treatment.
- -Record the names of the doctors that cared for you.
- -Document the date you became aware of the misdiagnosis and why you believe it is wrong.
- -Keep accurate records or your medical bills and any other expenses related to your illness.
- -Contact an experienced malpractice attorney to inquire about your legal options.
New Jersey Medical Malpractice Lawyer
Even with more patient involvement, healthcare providers need to proactively take efforts to prevent medical malpractice. When honest mistakes or errors are made, responsibility needs to be taken. If you are a victim of medical malpractice, you may be entitled to compensation for your suffering. It is recommended to consult with a skilled lawyer that can assist you in your claim. Proving medical malpractice can be a difficult and complex process. A successful medical malpractice claim must prove that the healthcare professional did not offer a competent standard of care and this led to your current injury. An experienced attorney will help prove this by contacting witnesses, reviewing medical records, developing evidence, and building a solid case. If you need a medical malpractice attorney, The Hayes Firm can help you find one today. Give us a phone call or send us an email and we will review your case as soon as possible. We will then connect you with a skilled, local lawyer if our evaluation finds that further legal action may be realistic. We will also offer you a chance to ask any questions you may have. Your case may win you compensation for medical bills, lost wages, disability, and suffering. In addition, it may help prevent the doctor from making the same mistake with future patients. Contact us today to find out if you may qualify for compensation.