Published on:

Misdiagnosis is a Leading Cause of Medical Errors

When you go to a doctor for an illness, one of the basic assumptions you may have is that the physician will be able to correctly diagnose your condition and provide treatment.  However, misdiagnosis or wrong diagnosis is one of the leading causes of medical errors. In fact, a new Johns Hopkins study confirms that wrong diagnoses, especially those related to the three most commonly misdiagnosed conditions, are a serious health concern in the United Sates.

The results of the study were published recently and confirm that a wrong diagnosis, or incorrect diagnosis, is the No. 1 cause of medical errors.  The researchers attempted to identify the diseases that were involved in the majority of medical malpractice clams. The data was based on malpractice cases from between 2006 and 2015.

The researchers concluded that as many as 75 percent of diagnostic error cases involved the Big Three – vascular events, infections and cancer.

Misdiagnosis of vascular events, such as stroke and heart attacks, accounted for 22.8 percent of the cases.  Misdiagnosis of infections accounted for 13.5 percent of the cases, and misdiagnosis of cancers accounted for close to 38 percent of all medical malpractice cases based on failure to diagnose errors. Stroke was the most common vascular event, while sepsis or blood infection was the most common infection prone to a misdiagnosis. The most commonly misdiagnosed cancer, according to the data, was lung cancer.

More than 70 percent of the diagnostic errors occurred in out-patient centers.  Medical malpractice claim payouts were the highest for infections, followed by vascular events and cancers. More than 50 percent of the diagnostic errors involved general practitioners.

The Johns Hopkins researchers found diagnostic errors to be the “most catastrophic” and “most common” case of medical errors, and recommend that more efforts be made to ensure accurate and timely diagnoses,  especially of the three conditions which account for a majority of the failure-to- diagnosis based medical malpractice claims.  A wrong diagnosis can result in a number of consequences. It can mean that the correct treatment does not begin on time, causing a delay in patient recovery. The wrong treatment could, in turn, cause more complications and injuries to the patient.  In other words, a misdiagnosis can very easily result in patient harm or even death.

Apart from the top 3 conditions above that are misdiagnosed, other commonly misdiagnosed conditions include fibromyalgia, lupus, multiple sclerosis, chronic fatigue syndrome and others.

If you feel that you are not being properly treated for your condition, or find that your symptoms are not improving with treatment, you should discuss this with your doctor. Don’t be hesitant to question your doctor about the diagnosis and request more tests to identify the cause of your symptoms.

If your or a loved one have suffered injuries as a result of a wrong, missed or delayed diagnosis, consult with a medical malpractice lawyer in Atlanta. You may be eligible to file a medical malpractice claim that helps you recover damages for your medical costs, lost income and other damages. The Atlanta medical malpractice attorneys at the Katz Law Firm represent persons who have been injured as a result of medical negligence in the metro Atlanta region, and across Georgia.  Schedule a consultation with a lawyer at our firm, and discuss your case.