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Diagnostic Errors May Eclipse Treatment Errors in Medical Malpractice Claims

Patients typically focus on finding a cure when they visit their doctors with medical complaints. However, without an accurate diagnosis, many patients receive ineffective treatment that fails to resolve their issues. A new study indicates that too many medical providers fail to arrive at an accurate diagnosis or miss diagnoses altogether. These diagnostic errors can result in severe injury or death.

To achieve greater patient safety, researchers have been conducting studies of historical medical malpractice claims across the U.S. In a recent study of 25 years of claims payouts, Johns Hopkins researchers learned that diagnostic errors may represent the most common, costly and dangerous types of medical practice. Their study estimates that between 80,000 and 160,000 patients annually suffer potentially preventable, significant permanent injuries or death due to diagnostic errors. These findings were based on statistics such as the following:

  • Diagnostic errors were the leading type of medical malpractice claim, representing 28.6 percent of claims and accounting for 35.2 percent of total payments.
  • Death or disability was the result of diagnostic errors twice as often as any other category of medical error.
  • While diagnostic errors occurred about twice as often in outpatient settings, a lethal result occurred significantly more frequently in inpatient settings.
  • Missed diagnoses occurred more frequently than delayed or wrong diagnoses.

The Johns Hopkins statistics suggest that, except in emergency situations, patients need to seek second diagnostic opinions before undergoing potentially harmful treatment for serious medical conditions. However, patients who suffer injury as a result of diagnostic errors can take some degree of comfort, because these medical malpractice claims appear to be successful in spite of complex malpractice laws. If you believe you sustained injury or illness or lost a loved one because of diagnostic error in Florida, you need to seek immediate assistance from a medical malpractice lawyer with the skills and resources to investigate the details behind your injuries

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