Recently, Irish researchers conducted a comprehensive study to determine what types of mistakes primary care doctors commonly make that result in medical malpractice claims. The findings revealed that misdiagnosis was the top cause of complaints of medical errors on the part of primary care physicians.
Our Scottsdale malpractice lawyers know that a misdiagnosis can have very serious consequences for patients whose treatments are delayed or for patients who do not get the medical care they require. Unfortunately, patients who suffer harm due to misdiagnosis face certain challenges in making a successful medical malpractice claim.
Primary Care Physicians Routinely Fail to Properly Diagnose Patients
CBS News reported on the study, which was published in a medical journal called BMJ Open. The study involved a review of 1,750 journal papers that had been written on malpractice claims. A total of 34 of those papers were then selected for further review based on the fact that the papers focused on primary care doctors. The papers selected included 15 reports based in the U.S., nine studies based in Britain, seven based in Australia, two from France and one from Canada.
While there were different results in the papers reviewed, all revealed that misdiagnosis was a leading cause of medical malpractice claims against primary care doctors. In fact, misdiagnosis or a failure to diagnose accounted for anywhere from 26 to 63 percent of the total claims made against general practitioners.
Unfortunately, when doctors made these types of mistakes, the consequences to the patient were often severe. In as many as 15 to 48 percent of cases, the patient died as a result of the misdiagnosis. Unfortunately, death is such a common outcome because the two most misdiagnosed conditions were both fatal if left untreated. These two conditions included cancer and heart attack.
Other commonly missed diagnoses that led to malpractice claims included the equally-serious appendicitis and ectopic pregnancy. Finally, bone fractures were also commonly misdiagnosed for adults while cancer and meningitis were the two most commonly missed conditions for children.
When a doctor misdiagnoses a patient, even if the patient doesn’t end up dying, his or her prognosis is usually much worse than if timely treatment had been received. Patients may need to undergo more expensive, painful or invasive treatment or their medical condition may have progressed and caused serious damage to the body because of the delay in treatment.
A doctor who misdiagnoses a patient should be held responsible for losses caused by professional negligence. Unfortunately, even in the most egregious and obvious cases, doctors often try to argue that the damage to the patient resulted not from the physician mistake but instead from the underlying health problem. To recover compensation for malpractice, the injured patient will need to prove how the doctor’s actions led to specific losses or harm for which they should be compensated.
If you or a loved one was hurt by medical negligence, contact the Law Offices of Jeffery J. Hernandez at (480) 624-2765 for a free consultation.