gavel and stethoscopeIf medical error were considered a disease by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention it would be the third leading cause of death in America, falling behind only cancer and heart disease. The two doctors who published the article in the British Medical Journal conservatively estimated an alarming 251,000 people die each year as the result of medical errors or improper medical care. Of all the errors that pave the way for medical malpractice lawsuits, perhaps the most common lies in the medical practitioner’s failure to properly diagnose a condition.

Roughly 12 million Americans are misdiagnosed each year, according to a study published in the BMJ Quality & Safety Journal. This means that 1 out of 20 adult patients are misdiagnosed, or 5% of the total outpatient . Of these misdiagnoses, nearly half (47%) lead to serious disability. It is estimated that nearly every individual will have a medical condition misdiagnosed at least once in her lifetime. Misdiagnosis alone may be the cause of 40,000-80,000 of the deaths that medical error brings annually.

Misdiagnosis Spurs Malpractice Claims

Patients may be misdiagnosed in a variety of settings. Recent research shows that in addition to being misdiagnosed in a hospital, more patients are being misdiagnosed in outpatient clinics and doctor’s offices. There are several reasons for misdiagnosis, the most common of which are:

  • Issues arising when ordering diagnostic tests
  • Patients failing to disclose an accurate medical history
  • Doctors misinterpreting test results

Diagnostic errors are the most common mistakes made by the medical community that lead to malpractice suits. Such errors are the most likely to result in disability or death. Between 1986 and 2010, these errors cost $38.8 billion in malpractice claim payouts. These errors are also largely preventable.

Those in the medical community have a number of challenges to reducing the rate of diagnostic errors, yet medical professionals suggest there are a number of things patients can do.

What Should Patients Do?

In Oregon, 8,579 adverse actions were taken against healthcare providers between 2005 and 2015 as the result of medical malpractice. These cases sometimes lead to tragic wrongful death cases in Portland. There are many ways patients can reduce their risk of being misdiagnosed by their physicians and healthcare providers to prevent, the most important being to follow up on all diagnostic results. Oftentimes, your healthcare provider may insist that if you do not receive a follow up call it means that results were normal, or positive; however, that’s not always the case.

Patients should also speak more openly with their doctors; many times, telling a story about what led up to your symptoms can help. Doctors listen for clues in your stories to zero-in on what may be ailing you.

If possible, be sure to find a good doctor who is willing to spend enough time with you to address all your concerns. Many believe that rushed doctor visits are exacerbating the problem. Consistency is also important — if you see the same doctor for a period of years, he or she will be familiar with your medical history.

You should also be weary of working with doctors who are quick to dismiss your symptoms and concerns or too quick to diagnose; sometimes, it may help to receive a second opinion. Keep fighting to receive answers when your body does not feel right.

At Rizklaw, we are not physicians and this post should not be taken as medical advice. We are a team of dedicated individuals eager to help you should you have a case against a medical provider. If you have sustained serious injuries due to medical negligence, you may be entitled to general, special, and punitive damages. Contact Richard Rizk – Personal Injury Attorney by calling 503-245-5677 or email rich@rizklaw.com to get help with your medical malpractice claim.