Medical malpractice occurs more often than most people realize, as several thousand people die each year due directly to some type of improper medical treatment regimen. Of those deaths, misdiagnosis is the most common cause of error. Successfully treating any illness requires proper identification of the medical problem in order to determine an accurate prognosis and treatment plan. Misdiagnosis can result in employing a line of medical defense that is ineffective on the disease and possibly detrimental to the patient, if not fatal.
These medical mistakes can lead to wrongful death or personal injury malpractice lawsuits. Although medical diagnosis of a disease or disorder can be complicated, sometimes the mistakes are simple and obvious. In a personal injury case, it is the duty of the plaintiff counsel to prove within a preponderance of the evidence that an injury occurred and the injury was the direct result of negligence by the defendant. In some cases, this is an easy legal challenge, exampled by the malpractice case involving a child with diabetes who died as a direct result of misdiagnosis of diabetes type. The girl was under 10 years of age, but her doctor diagnosed her with Type II when almost all juvenile diabetes cases are acute Type I, meaning the body is incapable of producing any insulin. Type II diabetes is typically termed as adult onset diabetes and is a very common condition for older patients. Negligence due to medical misdiagnosis in cases like this is relatively common and should be avoided with comprehensive medical testing.
Johns Hopkins University conducted a study of 350,000 malpractice cases over a 25-year span and arrived at a very interesting conclusion. Misdiagnosis was overwhelmingly the primary material case fact among all of the cases studied, as over one-third of the valid legal claims were a direct result of diagnostic inaccuracy. Most patients only consider that they have a malpractice claim when they are the victim of a botched surgery, but this is not necessarily the primary reason for negligence. Ranking researcher David Newman-Toker stated, “This is more evidence that misdiagnosis could easily be the biggest patient safety and medical malpractice problem in the United States.” Newman-Toker then added, “These are frequent problems that have played second fiddle to medical and surgical errors, which are evident more immediately.”
Combating the Misdiagnosis Problem
Malpractice lawsuits are a serious concern for all doctors and medical facilities. Many hospitals are now using digital technology advances for help in offering “decision support” for doctors who are diagnosing multiple possible disorders that exhibit similar symptoms. The software suggests multiple medical conditions that may be the true underlying cause of an illness instead of the doctor continuing to focus on one particular possibility. Doctors are human, even though they often perform excellent treatment, and some mistakes are reasonable. It is easy to miss a possible disease that is creating the symptom, but the medical professionals and facilities believe that the comprehensive information provided by the medical software can be effective in helping improve accurate medical diagnosis and potential treatment possibilities, as well as reducing the opportunities for malpractice lawsuits.
Gladstein Law Firm stands ready to help you, especially if someone you love has been hurt by medical malpractice. If you or a family member has been injured or killed due to the negligence of a medical professional, contact Gladstein Law Firm, PLLC as soon as possible for a free consultation. We can review your situation, inform you of your legal rights and options, and work to help you or your loved one seek the compensation to which you may be entitled.