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What Is Most Common Type of Medical Malpractice?

Written by Ankin Law Office

The first step in obtaining the proper medical treatment is obtaining the correct diagnosis. Unfortunately, though, diagnostic errors are the most common type of medical malpractice. If the correct diagnosis is not obtained, the proper medical treatment may not be received, which can result in additional medical problems.

The New York Times recently reported that, by looking at the National Practitioner Data Bank, a database recording actions taken by state licensing authorities against health care practitioners, researchers found that 28.6 percent of medical malpractice payments are for diagnostic errors. Treatment mistakes and surgical errors were the second and third most common medical malpractice claims.

The study, which was published online in BMJ Quality and Safety, found more than 100,000 payments for misdiagnosis malpractice claims during the period of 1986 to 2010. The most common diagnostic errors were missed diagnoses, compared to those that were late or incorrect diagnoses. Most alarming was that diagnostic errors accounted for 33.8 percent of the disabilities and nearly 40 percent of the deaths that resulted in malpractice payments.

Finding ways to reduce the number of missed diagnoses, however, is challenging since diagnoses are more subjective than, say, medication errors and surgical errors. Moreover, doctors today must walk a fine line between making a correct diagnosis without overusing diagnostic tests, many of which come with hefty price tags. Avoiding diagnostic tests isn’t necessarily the answer, however, and one recent study showed that if doctors were shown the prices of diagnostic tests, they might become more cost efficient.

According to the study’s author, Dr. David Newman-Toker, “People who study diagnostic errors have known for many years that diagnostic errors are the bottom of the iceberg. The tip of the iceberg is what we have been focusing on for the last decade, which is reducing medication errors and on-site surgeries. These are important problems, but they are not as big a problem in terms of their overall public health burden as diagnostic errors are.”

Medical malpractice claims for misdiagnosis involve complex legal theories and comprehensive factual analyses. A comprehensive medical review must be conducted, including a close examination of all pertinent medical records, laboratory results, communications with the patient and among the medical staff, and the credentials of the treating physician and medical team.

At Ankin Law Office, LLC, our Chicago medical malpractice attorneys focus on representing the victims of medical malpractice in lawsuits against negligent doctors, hospitals, and other health care providers. As a result of our considerable experience and familiarity with medical malpractice cases, including diagnostic error cases, we have the skill and knowhow to refute and overcome common defense legal arguments and tactics.

If you or a loved one has been the victim of medical malpractice, including a diagnostic error, contact our office at (312) 600-0000 to schedule a free consultation with one of our skilled Chicago medical malpractice attorneys.

Categories: Medical Malpractice