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Diagnostic errors a frequent cause of medical malpractice

According to one study, more than a third of medical malpractice cases are related to a missed diagnosis or misdiagnosis. This is significant in that diagnostic errors also account for some of the highest medical malpractice verdicts and settlements. Payments on average for these sorts of cases appear to be around $83,000 higher than other sorts of verdicts involving medical malpractice cases.

Yet even with these sorts of payouts occurring, the study also concludes that medical malpractice cases are not driving up health costs. Medical malpractice payments that are made overall amount to only a small percentage of healthcare expenditures.

Medical malpractice cases are complicated to begin with because most Chicago residents are reluctant to hold doctors accountable for mistakes. Nevertheless, errors do occur.

Legislators calling for tort reform often speak about the overuse of "defensive medicine" (or overuse of medical testing) by hospitals due to a fear of being sued for medical malpractice. Still, the supposed overuse of "defensive medicine" cannot explain why there are so many cases where a diagnosis has been missed.

Medical malpractice attorneys see all the time the long-lasting consequences that come about due to a medical error. And despite what politicians sometimes maintain, virtually no medical malpractice payout is made in frivolous cases. The verdicts paid out often are for diagnosis errors that led to paralysis of the patient because neurological problems were left undiscovered, heart conditions being undiagnosed because doctors did not listen carefully to a patient’s complaint or fatalities because infections or medical conditions were not quickly treated.


Source: Insurance Journal, "Medical Malpractice Payouts Not Driving Up Health Costs: Study," May 20, 2013

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AMERICAN ASSOCIATION for JUSTICE | Formerly the Association of Trial Lawyers of America (ATLA) | MEMBER -2013

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FAQ Medical Malpractice

Frequently Asked Questions about Medical Malpractice

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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