August 24, 2013 /24-7PressRelease/ -- What is the leading cause of medical malpractice? Study says misdiagnoses---
Article provided by Law Offices of Joshua A Schulman LLC
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If you are suffering from a medical condition, you rightfully expect that your physician will correctly identify what is wrong. However, as doctors are only human, the correct diagnosis is not always made, which can lead to serious consequences.
The danger of misdiagnoses was recently brought to light in a recent study published in BMJ Open. For the study, researchers reviewed medical malpractice claims in over 7,000 cases from Canada, Australia, France and the United States. As a primary care doctor is typically the first type of medical professional a person with a medical condition seeks out, the researchers focused on claims stemming from primary care visits.
Once the claims had been reviewed, the researchers discovered that misdiagnoses formed the basis of most of them--between 26 and 63 percent of the claims, depending on the country. The researchers also discovered an unsettling fact concerning misdiagnoses: that they often result in the patient's death. According to the data, between 15 and 48 percent of the misdiagnoses were fatal.
The study found that drug errors came in at a distant second when it came to causing medical malpractice claims. The researchers found that only such an error was only responsible for between six and twenty percent of the claims.
Certain condition prone to misdiagnosis
The study found that certain medical conditions are routinely misdiagnosed. For adults, the study found that cancer and heart attacks were the two most commonly misdiagnosed ailments. Cancer can have many symptoms such as weight loss, chills, fever, fatigue and loss of appetite, sometimes causing it to be misdiagnosed as the flu or a cold. Heart attacks can also have many symptoms such as fatigue, chest pain, heartburn or trouble breathing. As a result, heart attacks are sometimes misdiagnosed as a panic attack or a stress/anxiety disorder.
In addition to heart attacks and cancer, the study's data showed other commonly misdiagnosed conditions among adults are ectopic pregnancies, appendicitis and bone fractures.
For children, cancers and meningitis are the conditions that are frequently prone to misdiagnosis. Meningitis, a swelling of the tissues surrounding the brain and spinal cord, can have many symptoms such as fever, seizures, confusion, nausea or muscle stiffness--all symptoms of the flu.
To protect yourself against misdiagnosis, it is important to understand how the physician arrived at your diagnosis. Do not be afraid to ask him or her why other conditions were ruled out. If you suspect that there is an oversight in the diagnosis, a second opinion could save your life.
Unfortunately, many misdiagnoses are caused not by the physician's failure to correctly tell the difference between flu and cancer symptoms, but by his or her failure to order or correctly interpret diagnostic tests that would have revealed the correct diagnosis. In many cases, this type of error constitutes medical malpractice.
If you have been injured because of a misdiagnosis, contact an experienced medical malpractice attorney. An attorney can advise you of your rights and work to obtain all compensation due to you under the law.
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