If a healthcare provider makes a diagnostic mistake, it can be the difference between life and death for the patient. While there are varying reports, it is believed that more than 100,000 Americans are either permanently disabled or die every year because of a misdiagnosis, which either involves a diagnosis being delayed, wrong, or ignored completely. Many of these misdiagnoses lead to injuries that require representation by a medical malpractice attorney.
A Johns Hopkins Armstrong Institute for Patient Safety and Quality expert recently led a research study that concluded that three categories of major disease – infections, cancers, and vascular events – accounted for about three-fourths of the most severe injuries that result from diagnostic mistakes. The research team’s findings, which are based on the analysis of a large group of malpractice insurance claims, was described in a paper published online in a journal.
According to the research team, diagnostic mistakes were the most common, most expensive, and most catastrophic of medical errors. The study revealed that diagnostic errors that caused death or permanent, serious disabilities involved misdiagnosed cancers 37.8 percent of the time, vascular events about 22.8 percent of the time, and infections 13.5 percent of the time.
“The Big Three”
These three categories, which the research team called “The Big Three,” involved 15 specific conditions that added up to about half of all the misdiagnosis-based serious harms reported.
The leading conditions in each category included stroke, sepsis, and lung cancer. These conditions may be accompanied by venous thromboembolism, aortic aneurysm, heart attack, spinal infections, meningitis and encephalitis, skin and prostate cancers, endocarditis, colorectal or breast cancers, and pneumonia.
The researchers explained that diagnostic mistakes happen in all areas of the medical field. Mistakes can happen because there are more than 10,000 diseases, and each of those conditions can manifest a variety of symptoms, so it can be difficult to even initiate a diagnosis process because of the similarities of many conditions. But the study revealed that the most serious injuries from medical errors and misdiagnosis are associated with a very small number of medical problems.
Throughout the study, the research team analyzed 11,592 diagnostic error cases from 2006 to 2015 that were drawn from a list of medical malpractice claims that had been documented in the Comparative Benchmarking System database, which includes information from 400 hospitals. The health conditions included in those diagnostic error cases were grouped together using a standard, epidemiologic classification system.
Researchers found that most of the diagnostic errors – about 71.2 percent of those associated with the malpractice claims in the files were in an ambulatory setting, such as an emergency department – where infections and vascular events were overlooked – or in outpatient clinics, where cancer was more likely not to be properly diagnosed.
Filing A Medical Malpractice Claim
If you or a loved one has been injured because of a misdiagnosed health condition in the Los Angeles area, you should consult with a medical malpractice attorney. Schedule a free case evaluation with a Los Angeles medical malpractice lawyer at The Trial Law Offices of Bradley I. Kramer, M.D., Esq. by calling (323) 746-0087.