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Filing a Medical Malpractice Claim Can Help the Medical Community

Posted on in Medical Malpractice

Arlington heights medical malpractice lawyerHeadlines about surgical tools being left in a patient’s body or babies born with birth defects due to a hospital’s negligence are attention-grabbing. However, a quieter and perhaps more deadly type of malpractice is most common: missed diagnosis. If you are not diagnosed with a particular condition—even after seeking medical attention—you cannot get the treatment that your condition requires. In many cases, such a mistake by your doctor can have serious and permanent consequences.

Missed and Delayed Diagnoses

According to a recent study examining “medical malpractice claims against primary care doctors in the United States, Australia, France, and Canada,” the top reason for suing doctors is failure to diagnose a dangerous medical condition. The study determined that between 26 and 63 percent of all claims against doctors were related to missed diagnoses.

Not surprisingly, misdiagnosis or failure to diagnose cancer was the number one reason for the claim: specifically, breast, colon, melanoma, and lung cancer. A failure to diagnose meningitis in children was high on the list, as was a failure to recognize a heart attack in adults.

The study found that the most common patient outcome in a medical malpractice claim was the death of the patient. The authors of the studies speculated that many patients who experience adverse side effects or simply wait to learn their real diagnosis do not recognize the situation as potential medical malpractice and do not file. This means that the real number of missed diagnosis incidents could actually be higher than the number of claims indicated.

It is important to note, as the study did, that the filing of a malpractice claim for a missed diagnosis does not mean that the doctor was found to have been negligent. A malpractice claim is simply an allegation against the doctor by the affected patient or bereaved family. According to available statistics, approximately two-thirds of all medical malpractice lawsuits in the United States are dismissed by the courts with no finding against the medical professional.  

How Filing Helps Doctors

Dr. David Troxel, the medical director of California-based malpractice insurer The Doctors Company, said that medical malpractice lawsuits could help doctors recognize where diagnoses are being missed and alert them to the possibility of atypical symptoms. This is true even if the claim is not found to be viable in court.

Many claims have been filed in recent years regarding cases of heart attacks in women. By studying these claims, doctors were able to learn more about how to detect the possibility of heart attacks in women and share this information with other doctors. “Ultimately [the process of analyzing malpractice claims] can contribute to improving the quality of medical practice,” Dr. Troxel said. He went on to indicate that once doctors realize they can be sued for skipping a particular test, they are likely to change their behavior and order the test each time they encounter a patient with a specific symptom.

Contact a Rolling Meadows Medical Malpractice Attorney

If you or someone you know has been negatively affected by a misdiagnosis or failure to diagnose in Northern Illinois, the most important step is to contact an experienced Arlington Heights missed diagnosis malpractice lawyer at Newland & Newland, LLP. Call 847-797-8000 to schedule your free initial consultation today.




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