A recent study found that diagnosis errors account for more than one-third of severe harm medical malpractice claims in the United States.
34 Percent of Severe Harm Claims
The study, released by the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine on July 11, 2019, found that approximately 34 percent of medical malpractice claims over a ten-year period that resulted in permanent injury or death were caused by diagnosis errors. The study was funded by the Society to Improve Diagnosis in Medicine and published in the society’s peer-reviewed journal Diagnosis. The findings highlight the severe injuries that may result from diagnosis errors, which are among the most common mistakes in medicine.
“It’s not just inconvenient to have a wrong or delayed diagnosis,” said Dr. David Newman-Toker, lead author of the study and director of the Center for Diagnostic Excellence at Johns Hopkins Armstrong Institute for Patient Safety and Quality. “For many patients, misdiagnosis causes severe harm and expense, and in the worst cases, death.”
The claims data came from Controlled Risk Insurance Company and represents 28.7 percent of all medical malpractice claims. Of the 21,743 closed medical malpractice claims from 2006 to 2015 that caused severe harm, the study found that 7,379 of them were caused by diagnosis errors. Additionally, 21 percent of all medical malpractice claims during the same period were the result of diagnosis errors.
Researchers further analyzed the extent of harm caused by diagnosis errors for three diseases: cancer, vascular events, and infection. The three diseases were chosen because they are common and have a history of medical malpractice claims. According to the study, these three diseases accounted for 61.7 percent of all diagnostic error malpractice claims, and 74.1 percent of them resulted in severe harm to the patient, including permanent disability and death. The study also found that a significant percentage of diagnosis errors were the result of mistakes in clinical judgment.
How Do Diagnosis Errors Happen?
Diagnosis errors, in which medical professionals fail to diagnose or improperly diagnose an illness or injury, can happen for many reasons. The doctor may fail to diagnose an illness due to the lack of proper training, he or she may be under the influence of medication, alcohol, or other harmful substances during an appointment, or the doctor may not be paying proper attention to a patient’s file and incorrectly interpret it.
Other parties may also be at fault when a patient falls victim to a diagnosis error. In addition to the doctor, a hospital entity may bear responsibility for inadequate training, as well as other staff members working on the patient. It is therefore important to identify all the parties who may be involved in a diagnosis error in a timely fashion. Otherwise, an injured patient may be forever barred from obtaining full compensation.
Illinois Medical Malpractice Attorneys
As you can see, diagnosis errors are far too common and can cause serious bodily harm and even death. Illinois law allows an injured person to recover financial compensation in cases of medical malpractice, including diagnosis errors. If you or a loved one has suffered severe bodily injury as a result of a diagnosis error, please contact GWC Injury Lawyers today to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation with one of our Illinois medical malpractice attorneys.
With over $2 billion recovered for our clients and more than four decades in the business, GWC is one of the premier Personal Injury and Workers’ Compensation law firms in Illinois. Our attorneys have the experience, the determination, and the proven record of success you need to help you obtain the justice you deserve.