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One-third of misdiagnoses lead to death or disabilities

Medical malpractice has led to permanent disability and even death for many patients in New York. According to researchers at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, one-third of all malpractice cases ending in death or a disability involve either a misdiagnosis or a delayed diagnosis. Every year in this country, there are between 40,000 and 80,000 hospital patients who die because of a misdiagnosis.

Researchers arrived at the conclusion after analyzing 55,000 claims in the Comparative Benchmarking System, a national database of malpractice claims. Nearly 75% of the worst diagnostic errors were linked to three conditions: the misdiagnosis of cancer, vascular events and infection. The individual percentages were 37.8%, 22.8% and 13.5%, respectively.

Of all the diagnostic errors, 71.2% occurred in emergency departments, outpatient clinics and other settings where ambulatory medical care is given. But researchers call for system-wide improvements. For example, there is the need to prevent cancer misdiagnosis in primary care, sepsis misdiagnosis in hospitals and stroke misdiagnoses in EDs.

General care physicians were to blame for over half of the diagnostic errors. This was followed by specialists, for example in the areas of surgery and diagnostic services. Errors in judgment explained more than 85% of the misdiagnoses.

Medical malpractice cases can be very costly for health care providers. For this reason, those who intend to pursue a personal injury claim after being harmed by a doctor or other medical professional may want to see a lawyer.

Legal counsel could persevere through negotiations and achieve a fair settlement covering medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering and other losses. If the victim of malpractice died, a family member could file the claim.