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Misdiagnosis is leading culprit of malpractice actions

Medical negligence has many causes. For instance, inaccurate or delayed diagnosis was alleged in 34 percent of medical malpractice claims where a patient died or received serious disability. This information, contained in a peer-reviewed paper published in the July 11 edition of Diagnosis, also showed that diagnosis errors were involved in 28 percent of payouts in these personal injury claims.

This study covered a review of 55,377 closed medical malpractice claims that were filed from 2006 through 2016. It revealed 11,592 alleged diagnostic errors in these claims.

Misdiagnosis was involved in 65 percent of the claims involving a fatality. Almost 75 percent of those claims were ascribed to cancer, infections and strokes or heart attacks and other vascular events.

Providers misdiagnosed different conditions. Cancer was the most missed diagnosis in outpatient clinics. Vascular problems were the most overlooked condition in emergency departments and inpatient facilities.

Another research report was issued the medical malpractice insurer Coverys in late June which addressed malpractice claims in hospital emergency departments. According to that report, diagnostic-related malpractice was also the highest cited claim involving emergency departments. It was cited in 47 percent of payouts by emergency departments and 33 percent of all the claims that were filed.

Patients who are left in the emergency room are a common source of claims, according to one of the report's authors. Emergency departments always perform triage to assure that the most seriously injured or sick patients are treated first. But medical providers sometimes fail to check in with patients who are waiting to ensure that their condition has not changed.

Communication hand-off is another problem. This occurs when emergency room doctors are called away after their patient is stabilized and do not brief incoming physicians on the patient's current situation, background, situation assessment and care recommendations.

These type of problems were reflected in the death of actor John Ritter at a Burbank medial facility in 2003. Doctors did not take his family history and missed that he suffered a ruptured aortic aneurysm. This misdiagnosis led to the 54-year-old actor's death. The facility ultimately paid a $9.4 million settlement to his family.

An attorney can seek evidence and pursue evidence of malpractice. They can help assure that a legal action is timely filed.

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