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From cancer to diabetes, misdiagnosis cases range among patients

Oct 4, 2013 | Failure to Diagnose

Diagnostic errors may be a bigger problem than the general public realizes. In fact, when researchers from Johns Hopkins analyzed 350,000 medical malpractice payouts — stemming back 25 years — one-third of those payouts were the result of a misdiagnosis. This makes diagnostic errors one of the leading patient safety concerns in the U.S.

Diagnostic errors range, from a breast cancer misdiagnosis to failing to properly treat diabetes. Whatever the misdiagnosis is, the results can end up being tragic for a patient.

Take for example the case of the 6-year-old who died after a doctor misdiagnosed her with Type 2 diabetes. In her case, she ended up in the hospital with her blood sugar five times the normal level. All she really needed was insulin, but since her doctor misdiagnosed her with Type 2 diabetes instead of Type 1 diabetes, she ended up not getting the needed insulin and died. 

In this case, many were shocked as one diabetes expert testified that when a 6-year-old has diabetes, there is a 99.99 percent chance it is Type 1. This is important to know as Type 1 requires insulin. Type 2 can normally be treated with diet and exercise. 

In the medical malpractice case that stemmed from the 6-year-old’s death, her pediatric endocrinologist was found 100 percent liable.

While certainly a sad case, this is also just one example. There was a case involving a radiologist not seeing the fracture in an X-ray and case where a woman who died from breast cancer after a doctor told her the lump on her breast was not cancerous. In all of these cases, had the patient been properly diagnosed, the end result could have been different. 

Source: The Village Voice, "Type Miscast: Misdiagnosis Is Most Common Cause of Medical Malpractice Payouts," Albert Samaha, Oct. 4, 2013