In July 2019, the journal Diagnosis published a study showing how the majority of medical malpractice claims arise because of the misdiagnosis of three conditions: cancer, vascular events and infections. If medical experts focused on reducing these three types of misdiagnoses, there would be fewer instances of patient injury and death in Montana and across the U.S.
Researchers looked at some 55,000 malpractice claims filed between 2006 and 2015, especially the 12,000 claims arising from a misdiagnosis. It turned out that 74% of these claims arose from the misdiagnosis of the above three conditions. Cancer made up 38% of them, vascular events 23% and infections 13%.
Among cancers, the most frequently misdiagnosed were lung cancer, breast cancer, colon cancer and prostate cancer. Commonly missed vascular events included stroke and myocardial infarction. Sepsis and meningitis were among the most easily misdiagnosed conditions that result from infections.
Every year, anywhere from 40,000 to four million patients suffer serious harm as a consequence. Around 85% of these misdiagnoses, researchers found, were due to failures in clinical judgment. Primary care physicians were to blame for about half of the misdiagnoses with lung cancer misdiagnosis being especially common in primary care. Failure to diagnose strokes appeared to be common in emergency departments, and hospitals were the setting for many sepsis misdiagnoses.
Those who believe they were the victims of a misdiagnosis or other form of medical malpractice may be able to seek compensatory damages by filing a claim. The process can be complicated, though, and victims will likely face stiff opposition. For these reasons, they might wish to have legal representation. A lawyer may request an inquiry with the local medical board and bring in investigators to gather evidence of the doctor's negligence. The lawyer might handle all negotiations for a settlement.