Kentucky patients rely on their doctors to provide skilled medical care. But being human, doctors sometimes make mistakes. When it comes to medical malpractice claims, a report reveals that diagnostic errors are the number one cause. And the incidence of diagnostic errors remains high, though other types of medical malpractice claims have decreased, according to an author of the study.
The study examined more than 10,000 medical malpractices claims that were filed between 2013 and 2017. Diagnostic errors accounted for 33 percent of the claims. Surgical or procedural mistakes represented 24 percent of the claims, and medical management claims were the third most common type at 14 percent.
Of the diagnostic errors claims, 36 percent involved the death of a patient. Another important finding was that 36 percent of the claims involved treatment in an outpatient setting. One author of the report says that this correlates with the increasing practice of moving patients out of hospitals and into outpatient care. The author says that to reduce diagnostic errors, doctors should consult with peers. He says that misdiagnoses often occur when doctors are faced with heavy workloads, and he suggests encouraging a culture in which doctors feel comfortable admitting to uncertainty and seeking help in making accurate diagnoses.
One of the most important aspects of medical malpractice claims is bringing in outside experts to testify on behalf of the patient. Independent medical experts will commonly be asked by the patient’s attorney to determine whether the health care professional in question failed to provide the requisite standard of care which led to the patient being harmed.