Misdiagnosis a common cause of malpractice claims

According to recent studies, misdiagnosis remains the main reason patients file medical malpractice claims against their doctors.

In one of these studies, in which those responsible for the study reviewed 1,800 closed malpractice claims over 5 years, determined that almost half, over 45%, of them could be attributed to a misdiagnosis or, on a related point, a delayed diagnosis.

Moreover, these sorts of claims often ended with serious adverse consequences to the patient. Of those cases which involved misdiagnosis, the patient ultimately passed away in 45% of them. Overall, claims related to misdiagnosis accounted for over two-thirds, 68%, of all dollars paid to settle the 1,800 malpractice claims surveyed.

These recent studies only reinforced what others have found regarding misdiagnosis. Misdiagnosis is an ongoing, serious problem in the medical profession in this country, particularly among primary care doctors who take the lead in identifying a patient's ailment and setting out a course of treatment.

According to reports, the most frequent cause of misdiagnosis is a doctor's failure to do a complete and thorough evaluation of the patient. Not assessing a patient thoroughly means a doctor could miss critical signs and symptoms that, if appreciated, would have allowed for a prompt and accurate diagnosis. On a related point, problems with diagnostic tests or a physician's failure to follow through also, and all too often, caused misdiagnoses or delayed diagnoses.

Patients in Lake County, Illinois, trust their doctors to evaluate their condition thoroughly and, to the extent reasonably possible, promptly provide a correct diagnosis and an appropriate course of treatment. When they fail to do so, injured patients may have recourse to a personal injury case in which they can seek compensation for medical malpractice.

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