A new study has found that failure to diagnose is the most common type of medical malpractice lawsuit. Specifically, a delay or failure to diagnose a disease, including cancer, is the most frequent reason for patients bringing medical malpractice lawsuits. This comprehensive study analyzed medical malpractice claims against primary care doctors in Australia, the U.S., Canada, and France. It found that between 26 and 63% of lawsuit claims were somehow related to doctors missing a diagnosis.
What Were the Most Frequently Misdiagnosed Diseases?
The study found that the most frequently misdiagnosed illnesses were cancer — particularly lung cancer, melanoma, colon, and breast cancer. Heart attacks in adults were also frequently misdiagnosed as well as meningitis in children. Unfortunately, the most common outcome for those who received a misdiagnosis was death. In most cases, by the time the doctors realized their mistake, the patients’ cancer had progressed to the stage in which it was incurable. Medical errors were the second most common cause of medical malpractice lawsuits.
Doctors Frequently Misdiagnose or Fail to Diagnose Heart Attacks in Women
Heart attacks in women are another common condition that goes undiagnosed. Women are more likely to have symptoms of heart attacks that are not typical, such as gastrointestinal problems, which are different from the classic heart attack signs, such as arm or chest pain. Many doctors completely miss heart attacks in women, and women who could have been treated fail to get treatment. Subsequent heart attacks can result.
Keep in mind that malpractice lawsuits are separate from lawsuits involving actual medical errors. Most patients who experience further injuries as a result of medical malpractice are preventable. If doctors would use reasonable care and put systems into place to prevent errors from happening, many patients would not suffer additional injuries. There is a fine balance between overtreating symptoms and ordering too many unnecessary tests and failure to run a test that is needed and indicated based on the client’s symptoms.
The Dangers of Misdiagnosing Cancer
Misdiagnosis of cancer is incredibly dangerous. The sooner a doctor treats cancer, the higher the likelihood of survival for many cancer patients. Being treated for the wrong medical treatment can have a seriously negative affect. For example, if a patient comes in with a terrible cough that has not gone away, and the patient is a lifetime smoker, a reasonable doctor would usually order a chest x-ray to see if there are any masses in the patient’s lungs that could indicate lung cancer. If the patient did have lung cancer, and the doctor misdiagnosed him, his lung cancer could advance from stage one, which is treatable, to stage four, which is almost always fatal.
Contact Our Experienced Medical Malpractice Lawyers Today
If you have suffered greater injuries due to a doctor’s failure to diagnose your condition, or failure to diagnose the condition promptly, you may be entitled to compensation. Contact Pulvers Thomspon as soon as possible to schedule an initial consultation.