Two separate reports from medical malpractice insurers have found that misdiagnosis is the number one reason for claims against physicians. Kentucky residents may be interested to hear that diagnostic errors are, according to the National Academy of Medicine, possibly the third leading cause of death among hospitalized patients. Previous studies also show that misdiagnosis-related claims usually involve disability or death.
The first report from Coverys found that out of the 1,800 closed claims filed against physicians from 2013 to 2017, 46 percent were diagnosis-related. Of these, 48 percent of the patients involved died. Diagnosis-related claims accounted for 68 percent of paid indemnity costs.
The Doctors Company filed a report as well focusing on claims involving the treatment of children. Of the 1,215 claims closed between 2008 and 2017, 38 percent filed against physicians who treated a child were diagnosis-related. The report further shows that inadequate medical assessments from the primary care provider were to blame for most failed or missed diagnoses.
Incomplete family histories and incomplete physical exams were especially a problem. Primary care providers are not only responsible for these initial assessments but also for the selection of treatment or therapy and for the monitoring of any high-risk medications their patients take. Out of the 1,215 claims, 37 percent resulted in payments averaging $630,456.
Those who are misdiagnosed may, in serious cases, receive wrong-site surgery while suffering from the worsening of their actual condition. The result will not just be medical expenses but may be the incurring of a disability or death. Victims or their families may be eligible for compensation under medical malpractice law if it is clear that the doctor’s negligence is to blame. Since malpractice claims often end in large settlements, it may be a good idea to have a lawyer by one’s side.