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Study reveals top reasons for diagnosis delays

Illinois patients should be aware of a new study indicating that poor teamwork among doctors and lack of coordination of care are among the top reasons for delayed diagnosis and treatment of disease. The study, conducted by the Veterans Affairs National Center for Patient Safety, reviewed more than 100 cases in search of answers. While patient no-shows contributed to 10 percent of delays, the majority of the responsibility is being attributed to the doctor's office.

A third of the delays found were blamed on the failure of doctors to act as a part of a team when making decisions. Primary care doctors sometimes fail to refer patients when they really need to be seen by a specialist. Failure to mark referral requests as urgent is another reason some of these delays occur. Work is being done to move toward a more team-oriented approach and prevent these types of delays.

A review of over 30 studies showed that delays in diagnosis and failure to diagnose were most responsible for medical liability claims. Some doctors may choose a diagnosis and refuse to budge even when other evidence is present while others may take complaints from mentally ill patients less seriously and not investigate to find a medical cause. Heart and cancer patient cases were among those most likely to lead to liability claims.

A conference will be held in Chicago to find new approaches to prevent these types of diagnostic errors. However, anyone currently suffering as the result of a misdiagnosis, delayed diagnosis or lack of diagnosis may want to consult with an attorney. Medical malpractice attorneys may be able to help patients and their families recover compensation for injuries or even deaths related to medical errors by holding a negligent practitioner or staff of a facility responsible.

Source: American Medical News, "Study details how primary care diagnoses get delayed", Kevin B. O'Reilly , August 26, 2013

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Q: What is medical malpractice?

A: Medical malpractice is negligence committed by a professional health care provider, such as a doctor, nurse, dentist, technician, hospital worker or hospital, whose treatment of a patient departs from a standard of care met by those with similar training and experience, resulting in harm to a patient...

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