The most common type of medical malpractice doesn’t involve a scalpel or a needle. In fact, it can be as simple as a doctor overlooking a symptom, deciding not to conduct a test, or failing to spend enough time talking to a patient. While misdiagnosis, which literally affects millions of patients worldwide each year, may not be as dramatic as wrong side surgery or a medication error, it can have catastrophic and even deadly results.
Misdiagnosis may be the result of the following errors:
- Failure to order the appropriate tests.
- Misreading test results.
- Failure to properly assess symptoms.
- Failure to refer a patient to a specialist.
- Failure to take a proper patient history.
- Failure to listen to the patient’s complaints.
How Misdiagnosis Harms Patients
Although misdiagnosis may not immediately cause an injury to a patient, this medical mistake can have extremely serious and long-term consequences. If the patient had a heart attack, for example, but was misdiagnosed with heartburn, he or she could suffer another more serious heart attack due to a lack of treatment. Or someone with undiagnosed breast cancer may miss the opportunity to stop the cancer from spreading to other parts of her body.
Similarly, a misdiagnosed patient may be harmed by his or her treatment for a disease they do not have. Some cancer treatments, for example, can be extremely toxic and have long-term health affects. Many medications that help those with certain ailments can harm those who are otherwise healthy.
- According to the American Journal of Medicine, 15% of all medical cases in developed countries are misdiagnosed.
- According to The Journal of Clinical Oncology, up to 44% of some types of cancer are misdiagnosed.
- According to the National Center for Policy Analysis, there are over 40,000 fatal diagnostic errors in United States intensive care units.
- According to the British Medical Journal, misdiagnoses accounted for between 26% and 63% of total malpractice claims in the U.S., the United Kingdom, and Australia in 2013.
- A Harvard University study found that 75% of misdiagnosis errors involved negligence.
Your Possible Misdiagnosis Medical Malpractice Claim
Misdiagnosis claims may be harder to prove than some surgical mistakes or medication errors, but in many cases there is solid medical evidence that a mistake occurred and that negligence was involved. The best way to learn about your own possible misdiagnosis and potential legal claim is to speak to an experienced attorney, like the attorneys in Sommers Schwartz Medical Malpractice Litigation Group. The law limits the amount of time you have to file a lawsuit, so contact us today!