Diagnosis errors are the top cause of all serious medical malpractice cases filed in New Mexico and across the United States, according to a study conducted by researchers at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. The research was funded by the Society to Improve Diagnosis in Medicine and published in the journal Diagnosis.
One-third of serious medical malpractice claims involve diagnostic errors
For the study, researchers used the Comparative Benchmarking System database to analyze over 55,000 medical malpractice cases. They found that diagnosis errors, including misdiagnosis and delayed diagnosis, are responsible for a third of medical malpractice claims involving death or permanent disability. They also found that cancer, vascular events and infections, referred to as “The Big Three,” accounted for 74.1% of the most serious misdiagnosis claims. Within those three categories, lung cancer was the top misdiagnosed type of cancer, stroke was the top misdiagnosed type of vascular disease and sepsis was the top misdiagnosed type of infection. The study additionally determined that 71.2% of diagnostic errors occurred in outpatient clinics or emergency departments.
The authors of the study said that decreasing misdiagnosis errors is the best way to reduce incidents of patient harm across the country. Experts estimate that around 12 million American patients fall victim to diagnosis errors in U.S. hospitals every year. Of those patients, an estimated 40,000 to 80,000 die. Statistics show that that insurers have paid approximately $1.8 billion to settle severe medical malpractice claims over the last 10 years.
Legal options for victims
Victims of misdiagnosis or delayed diagnosis may be owed substantial compensation for their losses. By filing a medical malpractice lawsuit against the responsible doctor and hospital, it may be possible to obtain a settlement that covers medical expenses, lost income, pain and suffering and more. Victims could learn more about their legal options by contacting an attorney for advice.