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Diagnostic errors a common source of malpractice cases

People in New Jersey may worry about their health and well-being when they enter the hospital, but they usually assume that they will receive appropriate care during their stay. However, errors related to patient diagnosis are the most frequent reason for medical malpractice lawsuits, according to a report from a leading malpractice insurer. The report reviewed a total of 10,618 malpractice claims filed between 2013 and 2017 and found that a total of one-third of all claims related to diagnostic doctor errors, including a failure to diagnose a serious, progressive illness or a misdiagnosis with incorrect treatment.

Approximately half of the claims filed reflected the results of poor decision-making by doctors and other healthcare professionals, reported the study. While misdiagnosis is a major cause of concern for patients entering the hospital, this was not the only major cause of medical malpractice lawsuits. Approximately one-quarter of all complaints related to errors in surgeries or other procedures, while another 14 percent of cases involved complaints about medical management. However, other types of cases have declined over time, while diagnostic errors have remained a frequent issue.

Many of the cases involved serious issues; 36 percent related to the death of a patient following a mistaken diagnosis. Misdiagnosis can be devastating to a patient’s health; when a major, progressive illness like cancer is not diagnosed by a doctor, the patient’s decline can proceed rapidly.

For people who have experienced a misdiagnosis due to a doctor or hospital error, the results of the mistake can be long-lasting, and patients’ health can face a severe decline. Those who have seen their health worsen as a result of a physician’s error may benefit from speaking with a medical malpractice lawyer. An attorney might review the patient’s situation and provide advice about the potential of moving forward with a case.