Written by attorney Edward Joel Lake

Misdiagnosis and Wrong Diagnosis Statistics

Misdiagnosis and wrong diagnosis and can occur in a variety of settings, from the physician’s office to a hospital. Although not every case will warrant seeking compensation, when negligent medical care is the cause, it could lead to a malpractice claim.

Statistics Involving Misdiagnosis and Wrong Diagnosis

According to the American Association for Justice, preventable medical errors are such a serious issue that they kill more people in the United States than diabetes, Alzheimer’s and other leading causes of death. When compared to the fifth leading cause of death in the U.S. (accidents), medical errors fall just below.

It’s hard to say how many of these deaths are caused by a missed or wrong diagnosis. But according to the AARP, a study done by John Hopkins Medicine in Baltimore, found that it’s a common problem in the ICU.

Data shows that more than a fourth of the patients who died while in ICU had been misdiagnosed. Estimates are that 40,500 of these patients lose their lives every year.

The hectic and information-filled environment of an ICU may be a contributing factor. The same is true for the emergency room, where a lot of misdiagnoses also occur.

The following are five medical conditions that make up more than one-third of the missed diagnoses that occur in ICU:

  • heart attack (confused with pulmonary embolism, heartburn or gallbladder infection);
  • pulmonary embolism (confused with heart attack, pneumonia, asthma attack or bronchitis);
  • pneumonia (confused with tuberculosis and asthma);
  • aspergillosis (an allergic reaction or infection confused with acute respiratory distress, tuberculosis, pneumonia and asthma); and
  • abdominal bleeding (oftentimes undetected because symptoms are generally already ones present in the patient).

Missed and wrong diagnoses also occur more often in primary care. According to the Journal of the American Board of Family Medicine, a random study sent to 600 physicians in 2009 and 2010, found that two of the most common symptoms patients complained about (fatigue and abdominal pain) were misdiagnosed.

Some of the incorrect diagnoses given were benign viral infections (17 percent), musculoskeletal pain (10 percent), and asthma/chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (6 percent). Some of the physicians learned that it’s important to look beyond what may appear to be the most obvious diagnosis and that discomfort above the umbilical cord could be heart disease.

As with many medical conditions that are misdiagnosed, common symptoms can oftentimes be the cause. Yet further testing could help pinpoint the problem.

Studies in the past have shown certain conditions to be the most commonly misdiagnosed. They include coronary disease, pulmonary embolism, appendicitis, aneurysm and cancer.

Filing a Claim for a Misdiagnosis Using a Medical Malpractice Attorney in NY

There aren’t any concrete numbers on how many patients receive an incorrect or misdiagnosis every year in the United States. Some go undiscovered and not all patients report these cases.

Those who do find out they’ve been misdiagnosed and decide to pursue legal action will need to be prepared to establish important elements in a claim. The first to prove is that the healthcare provider was negligent.

First, while using reasonable care, misdiagnosis can happen and it doesn’t always mean that a medical professional will be held liable. But if there was carelessness or the care was unreasonable, it could be a different story. An example would be a patient with complaints of chest pains and no tests being run to rule out a heart attack.

Second, a connection of the missed or wrong diagnosis to the resulting injuries must be made. Additionally, there must have been damages (medical expenses, lost wages, etc.) from a misdiagnosis suffered as a result.

Considering the complex nature of these cases, a medical malpractice attorney in NY is often beneficial to ensure justice and full compensation is obtained. When a medical malpractice claim is ready to be pursued, the attorneys at Gacovino, Lake & Associates are here to help.

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