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High malpractice rates for misdiagnosis

Like many in New York, you take your health seriously. You schedule regular checkups and receive your recommended screenings. When you began to feel something wasn't right, you went to your doctor or even to a specialist to have it checked out. Unfortunately, this proactive move did nothing to spare you pain and suffering.

If you recently endured a prolonged illness or lost a loved one because of a missed diagnosis of a treatable condition, you are not alone. In fact, the latest data shows that the rate of diagnostic malpractice claims continues to surge above all other claims, including surgical mistakes.

Where do things go wrong?

One malpractice insurance provider analyzed the claims received between 2013 and 2017. Their report indicates that rates of malpractice claims have dropped in many areas, likely because of media attention bringing the issues to the public. For example, claims of surgical or procedural errors, once the most prevalent form of malpractice, made up about 24 percent of the total claims. However, more than a third of those malpractice claims came from patients who received incorrect diagnoses. Thirty-six percent resulted in a patient's death.

Apparently, while other areas of malpractice have declined, those for misdiagnosis have not. Your situation may be similar to many others in that a mistake was made somewhere along the line. The study pinpoints certain vulnerable areas in the diagnostic process where mistakes occur most often, including:

  • The doctor failed to properly evaluate you.
  • The doctor did not take an adequate patient history or did not give your history full consideration.
  • The doctor ordered the wrong tests.
  • The doctor performed diagnostic tests incorrectly.
  • The doctor did not accurately interpret the results of your tests.
  • The radiologist buried critical information in a report to your doctor.
  • Your doctor was too overworked to have time to carefully evaluate your test results.

The authors of the malpractice report recommend that physicians work cooperatively to make diagnoses. A doctor working alone to reach a critical interpretation of your health is more likely to make mistakes than doctors who work as a team, sharing their opinions and double-checking the facts and test results.

While the medical industry seeks to find answers to the problem of diagnostic errors, you are left to suffer the consequences of a physician's critical mistake. While seeking compensation through malpractice may not completely restore you to health, it may restore your sense of justice.

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