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Misdiagnosis is the most common medical error

In Chicago, Illinois, as well as in the rest of America, the most common form of possible medical malpractice is misdiagnosis. Experts say that missed, delayed, or incorrect diagnoses account for between 10 to 20 percent of all preventable medical errors. According to a 2009 report from the federal Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, 28 percent of misdiagnoses result in disabling injuries or death. Another study conducted in conjunction with the Texas Veterans Affairs System found that 87 percent of misdiagnoses had the potential to inflict considerable harm. There are three ways in which misdiagnoses occur:

• 1. Missed Diagnosis: The failure to identify a medical problem even in the presence of diagnostic evidence. Medicine is not an exact science, so occasionally even a competent physician will identify an illness or injury incorrectly. Malpractice arises when a physician fails to diagnose an illness that other physicians using standard diagnostic protocols would have been able to identify.

• Delayed diagnosis: Delayed diagnosis is a situation in which a physician does not diagnose an illness or injury in a timely fashion. This is particularly problematic in cancer diagnoses since the success of cancer treatment is directly proportional to the stage at which the cancer is discovered. Cancer treatments that begin in State I or Stage II are associated with far longer survival rates than cancer treatments that commence in Stage III or Stage IV.

• Incorrect diagnosis: This is a situation in which the physician does not diagnose the correct illness. Once again, physicians make incorrect diagnoses all the time. An incorrect diagnosis is only malpractice if the misdiagnosis injures the patient, and the diagnostician failed to use differential diagnostic techniques that any prudent practitioner would have used or failed to perform the appropriate tests associated with those differential diagnostic techniques.

Medical malpractice is a very complex legal field. The best recourse for any individual who believes he or she may have been injured by misdiagnosis is to review the facts of the case with an experienced malpractice attorney.

Source: The Record, "Misdiagnosis more common than drug errors or wrong-site surgery", Sandra G. Boodman, June 06, 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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