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Misdiagnosis Medical Malpractice Claims Especially Common For Primary Care Physicians

While there have been lots of medical advances in recent years that have helped people to live longer and healthier lives, some of the most significant progress that has been made in reducing the fatality rates for diseases like cancer comes from a simple change: better screening. The American Cancer Society has recommended screening schedules to help in the fight against breast cancer, ovarian cancer, prostate cancer and a variety of other potentially fatal cancers. Since early detection is key, screenings have made a huge difference in improving outcomes for patients afflicted with a variety of medical conditions.

Unfortunately, our Boston malpractice attorneys know that sometimes patients can comply with screening schedules, see doctors when they have symptoms, and do everything right and yet still not have their condition diagnosed in time to save their life. This can occur when doctors make diagnostic mistakes and either delay the diagnosis of a medical condition or diagnose the wrong medical problem.

Medical Malpractice Claims Commonly Arise From Misdiagnosis

Recently, CBS News addressed the high risk of medical misdiagnosis. The news article focused on a study conducted by Irish researchers and published in BMJ Open in the medical journal’s July 18 issue.

The focus of the study conducted by Irish researchers was on the cause of medical malpractice claims among primary care physicians. To determine why claims were being made against primary care doctors, the researchers reviewed more than 7,150 journal articles analyzing medical malpractice claims. From these thousands of claims, they found 34 articles related specifically to the subject of primary care malpractice.

The researchers then looked at these 34 articles in order to find the reason the claims were made against the doctors. The articles included papers analyzing primary care malpractice claims in the United States, in Britain, in Australia, in France and in Canada.

While the differing papers came to slightly different conclusions, they all agreed on one thing: a high number of claims resulted from doctors misdiagnosing medical conditions. The Irish researchers, therefore, were able to determine that misdiagnosis was the most common reason for medical malpractice claims against primary care doctors. Misdiagnosis accounted for anywhere from 26 to 63 percent of the claims made, depending upon the study.

While doctors misdiagnosed a number of conditions, the two most likely to be incorrectly diagnosed were cancer and heart attack for adults; and cancer and meningitis for kids. Other frequently-misdiagnosed ailments included appendicitis, ectopic pregnancy and broken bones. The consequences of all of these diagnostic mistakes were serious for patients, with between 15 and 48 percent of those who got an incorrect diagnosis dying from their medical issues.

Unfortunately for patients who are harmed by a diagnostic error, medical malpractice claims may be difficult under these circumstances as it can be hard to conclusively prove that the primary care doctor’s negligence or error was the direct cause of harm. Doctors frequently argue that the underlying medical condition caused the patient’s health problems and that the patient would have had the same outcome regardless of what the healthcare provider did. Overcoming this argument and proving the doctor caused harm he should be held responsible for often requires the help of an experienced medical malpractice law firm.

If you’ve been hurt by medical negligence, call 1-800-WIN-WIN-1 for a free consultation with a personal injury lawyer at the Law Offices of Mark E. Salomone.