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Have you been misdiagnosed? Study confirms that these are the most common medical malpractice claims and bigger payouts.

Posted on Jul 20, 2013

Johns Hopkins medical researchers have now analyzed 25 years of medical malpractice claims based on probably the most accurate source of data:  The National Practitioner Data Bank.  What they found is that errors in diagnosing a condition lead to more payouts to patients in lawsuits, both settlements and trials.

"Mistaken" diagnosis (otherwise known as "diagnostic errors" and "wrong diagnosis" as well as other phrases) accounted for the largest fraction of claims, the most severe patient harm, and the highest total of penalty payouts. This is in comparison even to other cases including medication overdose, and surgical errors.  

Diagnosis-related payments amounted to $38.8 billion between 1986 and 2010, they found.
They also found that more diagnostic error claims were rooted in outpatient care than inpatient care, (68.8 percent vs. 31.2 percent) but inpatient diagnostic errors were more likely to be lethal (48.4 percent vs. 36.9 percent). 

The majority of diagnostic errors were missed diagnoses, rather than delayed or wrong ones. Per-claim payments were highest in cases of serious neurologic harm, including quadriplegia and brain damage resulting in the need for lifelong care. Those payments, the researchers found, were higher even than for errors resulting in death.

But reality is admittedly even worse:  the extent of harm from missed diagnosis in the U.S. healthcare system is much greater than his team's review showed, Newman-Toker says, because the data they used covers only cases with the most severe consequences of diagnostic error. There are many others that occur daily that result in costly patient inconvenience and suffering, he says. One estimate suggests that when patients see a doctor for a new problem, the average diagnostic error rate may be as high as 15 percent.
The actual cost of diagnostic errors could be twice that previously estimated. 

It is extremely important to contact us to review your situation (at no charge) if you suspect a missed diagnosis.

Johns Hopkins Medicine. "Diagnostic errors more common, costly and harmful than treatment mistakes." ScienceDaily, 22 Apr. 2013. Web. 20 Jul. 2013
BMJ Qual Saf doi:10.1136/bmjqs-2012-001550

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