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Study: Missed diagnoses No. 1 cause of medical malpractice claims

Jul 25, 2013 | Failure to Diagnose

Depending on the condition, a missed diagnosis can lead to serious complications or even death. Knowing this, it is particularly frightening to learn that the most common cause of medical malpractice claims is due to missed diagnoses.

Recently a study reviewed more than 7,150 journal papers focusing on medical malpractice claims.

According to the study, between 26 percent and 63 percent of medical malpractice claims have to do with missed diagnoses. The percentage changes depend on which study the researchers were focusing on. Either way though — whether looking at the high end or low end — the message is the same: a missed diagnosis can be a serious issue for a patient.

For adults, the most common missed diagnoses claims had to do with cancer and heart attacks. Both of these, if found early, can have drastically different outcomes than if found later.

Among children, the most common missed diagnoses claims were related to not only cancer, but also meningitis. Again, both of these medical conditions can be deadly, which means the faster the diagnosis the quicker possible life-saving treatments can begin.

For this study, part of the focus was also on primary care doctors, as these are the doctors who normally hear some of the first, early complaints. In some cases doctors end up brushing these complaints off and not running the appropriate tests.

When it comes to missed diagnoses, while there is much talk around patients becoming more involved and asking their doctors questions, when a missed or delayed diagnosis impacts a patient, an attorney is where to go when it comes to filing a malpractice claim and learning about different accountability options.

Source: CBS News, "Most common medical malpractice claims for missed cancer, heart attacks," Ryan Jaslow, July 19, 2013