Study: Misdiagnoses account for majority of medical malpractice claims

A recent study reveals that diagnostic errors are the most common and costly medical mishaps.

Californians who have had to deal with health problems know how much help a doctor's visit can be. However, what they may not know is that sometimes, a doctor's visit can be more harmful than it is helpful. When a pattern of symptoms is mistaken for indicating a different disease, or when a diagnosis is missed entirely, it can spell disaster for a patient. A needed treatment may not be administered, or a risky procedure could be undertaken for an illness which is not even present. A misdiagnosis is in fact the most common form of doctor's error, according to a recent study.

The cost of misdiagnosis

The Johns Hopkins Medical University recently conducted a study, which reviewed a set of medical claims that resulted in a payout for medical malpractice. The study showed that diagnostic errors comprised 35.2 percent of the 350,706 claims that were paid, and were the highest proportion of total payments. These types of errors were also the leading type of claims, making up 28.6 percent out of the total surveyed.

The study's leader considers this to serve as evidence that the biggest issue in the U.S., when it comes to medical malpractice and the safety of patients, is in fact errors in diagnosis. Not only did misdiagnoses make up the biggest portion of claims and the highest penalty payout total - they also were the mistakes that resulted in the most severe harm to patients. As such, more attention needs to be paid to these kinds of mistakes, and checklists were suggested as a potential preventative measure. The leader of the study also advocates that more money needs to be spent on researching the reasons behind the prevalence of errors in diagnosis.

The true prevalence of diagnostic errors

CBS News states that a separate study, which was held with data from three previous studies, shows that misdiagnosis is a common problem. According to the data, 1 in 20 adult patients are misdiagnosed in outpatient situations every year. This is equivalent to about 12 million people.

The authors of the study noted that their previous work has shown that 50 percent of diagnostic errors can lead to severe harm. This is an unsettling number when considered alongside the statistic of 5.08 percent patients being misdiagnosed annually.

If people in the Orange County area are hurt as a result of an improper diagnosis, they have a right to pursue a claim. Those who wish to do so will be able to get more information by consulting with an attorney who is experienced in medical malpractice claims.