A mistaken diagnosis may be one of the worst fears for New Jersey patients headed to the hospital for an undiagnosed, concerning or serious illness. In fact, diagnostic errors are the most common reason that Americans file medical malpractice claims, according to a study conducted by a medical malpractice insurer. In reviewing 10,618 malpractice lawsuits filed between 2013 and 2017, the report determined that one-third of all malpractice claims were made due to errors in diagnosing the patient’s illness.
Common errors include the provision of incorrect treatment, which can sometimes lead to a worsened medical condition. Of the claims involving misdiagnosis, the report noted that approximately 50 percent involved incorrect or poor medical decisions by doctors and other health care professionals. Even as other types of malpractice claims have declined over the years, diagnostic errors have remained a steady and significant source of lawsuits.
A significant number of claims studied in the report had serious outcomes. For example, 36 percent of malpractice cases involving diagnostic errors concerned the death of a patient. One-third of the complaints were based on an insufficient evaluation of the patient’s medical condition, including failure to seek a family history or order relevant tests. In 52 percent of claims, lab testing was an issue, including poorly performed tests or misinterpreted results.
When people experience a diagnostic error, they may not only lose their faith in medical accuracy but suffer serious health consequences as a result. Progressive diseases can become dramatically worse when a diagnosis is missed, especially if a different, incorrect diagnosis is applied. Patients who have suffered a decline in their health due to a doctor error might want to consult with a medical malpractice attorney.