Missed and delayed diagnoses are common medical errors that can lead to serious injury and death. This morning the Daily Mail wrote about an 11 year old boy who died from severe bowel obstruction after a doctor misdiagnosed him with constipation and sent him back home. The doctor neglected to send him for an X-ray despite symptoms consistent with bowel obstruction.
Failure to diagnose or delay to diagnose a medical condition occur so often that the ECRI institute ranked this type of medical malpractice its number one concern out of its Top 10 Patients Safety Concern in 2020.
In the US it is estimated that 12 million adults or 1 out of 20 patients are misdiagnosed every year
An estimated 44% of misdiagnoses are failure to diagnose cancer and more than half of the misdiagnosed cancers are related to the interpretation of breast imaging. Breast cancer is one of the commonly misdiagnosed types of cancer along with prostate cancer and thyroid cancer.
While misdiagnosed cancers represent almost half of the misdiagnosis it is estimated that another 10 to 20 misdiagnoses are occurring in patients with serious conditions. One of the major causes of failure to diagnose a patient’s condition is that doctors all to often do not listen to the complaints expressed by the patient or do not take them seriously.
Misdiagnosis can not only lead to unnecessary treatment, increased costs and physical and emotional stress but also serious injuries and deaths. It is estimated that a third of the misdiagnosis are life threatening or result in life alteration.
Misdiagnoses most commonly occur when scans are interpreted by a general radiologist instead of a sub specialist, when a physician doesn’t order necessary follow up tests (such as an X-ray in the case of the 11 year old boy mentioned above) or when a doctor doesn’t properly interpret a test result.
What can patients do if they feel they have been misdiagnosed?
Seeking a second opinion is probably a good idea if you have doubts about a diagnosis. It is estimated that only 12% of patients looking for a second opinion will see their diagnosis confirmed. 21% will received a completely different one and 66% will obtain a refined diagnosis.
Our firm’s medical malpractice attorneys have achieved verdicts and settlements that are among the largest in New York in failure to diagnose medical condition cases . We employ three doctors who assist in evaluating these types of medical malpractice cases. We have expertise in all types of misdiagnosis cases. If you or a loved one believe you suffered medical malpractice as a result of a failure to diagnose a disease please contact our firm to discuss your case.
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