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Researchers find three main areas of misdiagnosis

On Behalf of | May 25, 2021 | Medical Malpractice

A medical misdiagnosis can cause serious harm to people in Arizona and can even result in death. One study found that there could be as many as 160,000 cases of harm attributable to misdiagnoses throughout the country and up to 80,000 deaths. According to researchers, most misdiagnoses were related to some form of cancer, an infection or a vascular issue. They referred to these as the “big three” of medical misdiagnosis errors.

Three main categories

Of the errors that led to permanent injury or death, more than 33% were related to cancer misdiagnoses, usually in outpatient settings. Just under a fourth were due to vascular issues, and infections were involved in 13.5% of misdiagnosis, usually in emergency rooms. In all, these three categories accounted for almost 75% of errors that resulted in substantial harm, and most of them appeared to be simply failures of judgment by a medical professional.

Other common diagnostic errors

Researchers further identified the most common conditions within those categories of misdiagnosis and found that strokes and lung cancer were the most common conditions in the vascular and cancer misdiagnosis categories. Sepsis, a condition in which the body has a severe, life-threatening reaction to an infection, was another. Other frequently overlooked cancers included skin, breast and prostate cancer. Blood clots, heart attacks and pneumonia were also commonly misdiagnosed.

Improving diagnoses

According to researchers, better teamwork and technology are among the improvements that could reduce the incidence of medical malpractice. Better patient access to medical care would also improve diagnoses. Researchers did point out that medical errors that did not lead to legal action were not included in the study, and further research may examine this.

The legal system recognizes that not every condition is immediately diagnosed correctly, so for a diagnostic error to be considered medical malpractice, the treatment the patient received is compared to what would constitute a reasonable standard of care from other medical professionals. If the actions and conclusions of a doctor or other medical professionals deviate from this reasonable standard, a court may decide that medical malpractice has occurred.

To help you make that determination, you should contact a medical negligence attorney. We are here to help.