Medical Malpractice: Diagnostic errors most common, dangerous

Did you know that an estimated 40,000 to 80,000 Americans die each year from missed medical diagnoses? A new study has found that diagnostic errors are the main source of successful malpractice claims and are the most common, most costly and most dangerous of medical mistakes.

Incorrect, missed or delayed diagnoses accounted for 29 percent of successful malpractice claims, according to the study. They also accounted for 35 percent of the total amount of money paid out and caused 39 percent of malpractice-related deaths.

The researchers at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine looked at approximately 350,000 malpractice allegations from 1986 to 2010 in which payments were made. The allegations were assigned to one of several groups. The leading categories, besides diagnostic errors, included treatment errors (27 percent), surgical mishaps (24 percent), obstetrical problems (7 percent), medication errors (5 percent) and anesthesia disasters (3 percent).

The study didn’t address why diagnostic errors are so common or how to lower the number of errors.

When a diagnostic error is made, the results can be fatal. For example, if someone has cancer, a delay in the start of treatment can make the difference between life and death.

If you or a loved one has suffered because of a diagnostic error, you need an experienced medical malpractice attorney to help you fight for your rights. When medical mistakes are made, the responsible parties must be held responsible. We have nearly five decades of experience helping clients get back on their feet after medical malpractice. Call 1-800-ELK-OHIO today or fill out our online consultation form.

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