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Misdiagnosis is top reason for medical malpractice lawsuits

New Mexico hospital patients can be seriously injured when they do not receive an accurate diagnosis for the condition that they have. In fact, problems with diagnoses are the most common reason patients file medical malpractice claims, according to a recent study by The Doctors Company. Diagnosis-related medical malpractice claims may involve a failed diagnosis, an incorrect diagnosis or a delayed diagnosis.

The Doctors Company is the largest doctor-owned medical malpractice insurer in the United States. The insurer conducted its recent study using 1,180 claims that were filed against internal medicine physicians who purchase their insurance from The Doctors Company. All of the claims that were studied closed between 2007 and 2014.

The largest percentage of medical malpractice claims in the study, 39 percent, involved allegations of diagnostic errors. Among the diagnostic error claims, 56 percent involved problems with patient assessments. According to practicing physicians who reviewed all of the cases in the study, there were three main factors that led to adverse outcomes for patients. The factors were issues with patient assessments, patient-related problems and poor communication between the patient and doctor. In addition to the data on medical malpractice claims, the study included several case studies that may be used to help doctors avoid common mistakes.

When a patient is not correctly diagnosed during a hospital visit, they may be treated for a condition that they do not have while their real condition gets worse. A patient who has been injured by a misdiagnosis or delayed diagnosis may be able to claim some financial compensation for their ordeal. An attorney might be able to assist an injured patient with the process of building a medical malpractice claim and pursuing compensation within the statute of limitations.

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