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Misdiagnosis is leading cause of medical malpractice claims

A new study says as many as 80,000 people die each year in U.S. hospitals as a result of diagnostic errors. Additionally, misdiagnoses related to the “Big Three” diseases – cancer, infections and vascular disease – account for three out of every four malpractice claims.

The study was funded by the Society to Improve Diagnosis in Medicine and reviewed more than 55,000 cases from 2006 to 2015, finding 11,592 diagnostic errors. Nearly half were attributed to 15 specific diseases.

Study lists key findings

The study’s lead researcher says the investigation confirms previous data illustrating the immense impacts of misdiagnosis, highlighting these results:

  • 34% of medical malpractice claims involve inaccurate or delayed diagnoses
  • 65% of those claims result in death or permanent disability for patients
  • 28% of all medical malpractice payouts occur from diagnosis errors

Cancer is the most commonly misdiagnosed disease

The study found diagnosis errors involved cancer in 38% of all cases with lung cancer, breast cancer and colorectal cancer listed as the top three. Vascular mistakes were second at 23% with stroke, heart attack and blood clots as the most common, while infections were the third most commonly misdiagnosed diseases at 13%, starting with sepsis, meningitis and encephalitis.

Emergency room misdiagnoses account for nearly half of all claims

Insurance provider Coverys released a separate study earlier this summer, focusing on diagnosis errors by emergency rooms (ERs) across the nation. It found 47% of all malpractice payouts resulted from ER misdiagnoses and one-third of all claims. The study pointed to three areas that ERs must focus on to prevent mistakes:

  • Patient histories and physical exams were an issue in 33% of all claims
  • Doctors’ decision-making process for a diagnosis was a factor in 52% of all claims
  • Ensure that a patient is continually being evaluated throughout the entire time they are undergoing care

Iowa patient receives $12 million payout

Just last spring, an Iowa jury awarded $12.25 million to a Polk County man who underwent prostate cancer surgery only to find out he didn’t have cancer. In September, a Fairfield woman reached a $2.5 million settlement after both her legs were amputated over what she claimed was a misdiagnosed spinal injury. If you have been the victim of a diagnosis error, an experienced and compassionate medical malpractice attorney can help you receive the compensation you deserve.