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Leading Cause of Litigated Medical Malpractice – Diagnostic Errors

Medical malpractice occurs any time that a medical professional breaches a duty of care equal to that of other reasonable professionals in the area. When that breach causes real injury to a patient, then the injured party (or their family) can pursue accountability and redress via the civil law.

As most community member knows, there are seemingly an endless array of ways that harmful mistakes can be made by doctors. Everything from botching a surgery to accidentally providing too much medication. Estimates from many different organizations over the years have discovered that the overall scope of medical errors are staggering, with the most aggressive arguing that as many as one in three patients may fall victim to some lapse in case. Most of those are minor, however .

There are some types of malpractice, of course, that are not minor–resulting in very real harm or even death. It is those types of accidents that are mostly likely to spur medical malpractice lawsuits and accountability via a judgment or settlement.

So what type of error is the most likely to lead to attorneys getting involved?

According to a Washington Post report, diagnostic errors tops the list of medical malpractice resulting in accountability for patients and families. That was the result of a new study examining information from the past twenty five years from the National Practitioner’s Data Bank. In total, these diagnostic errors accounted for about 29% of successful malpractice claims and 35% of total payments made to patients for the errors.

Many estimates have indicated how big of a problem diagnosis errors still are. One report argued that anywhere from ten to twenty percent of all deaths are actually caused by missed diagnoses. If the diagnosis was made while the patient was still alive, about half of those deaths could have been treated. All of that means that anywhere from 40,000 to 80,000 people in the United States die each and every year in ways that could have been prevented if their medical professionals have made the proper diagnosis on time.

This is not a minor problem: it is a severe issue that needs to be addressed immediately. Yet, unlike other types of errors–surgical mistakes, medication problems–doctors are not required to report diagnostic errors. All of this leads to a lack of complete understanding about the problem and minimal system-wide effort to improve the situation.

One interesting thing to note is that all of this is not necessarily to say that mistakes in diagnosis are the single most common way that doctors, nurses, and aides provide poor care. But because of the seriousness of the possible harm, availability of evidence to support a claim, and intuitive nature of the mistake to patients, that type of error is more likely to actually spur a harmed individual to seek out legal help to ensure their rights are respected.

If you or someone you know may have had a delay in diagnosis or a missed diagnosis by a healthcare provider Chicago or elsewhere in Illinois, please do not hesitate to contact our Illinois med mal lawyers to see how we can help.

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