Should I be worried about a medical misdiagnosis?

On Behalf of | Aug 11, 2023 | Firm News

In Montana, when people go to a physician or to a hospital in need of medical care, they do so under the expectation that they will get an accurate diagnosis and be treated according to their symptoms.

Still, medical professionals can make mistakes. In some instances, it is a severe error that can lead to worsened condition, disability and death.

There have been great advancements in technology and methods that are supposed to improve care and outcomes.

However, recent research suggests that medical errors are still a major problem and harm many people each year. It is important to be aware of the statistics and have assistance in recognizing whether a medical misstep was a factor in the injury or fatality.

New research yields worrisome information about misdiagnoses

A Johns Hopkins study found that around 795,000 people in the United States are either disabled or lose their lives each year because of medical misdiagnoses.

Breaking it down, around 424,000 are disabled and 371,000 die. According to the lead researcher of the study, this is a crisis that is not getting the proper resources to adequately address.

The primary reason for misdiagnoses is when they misinterpret the symptoms of the person’s complaint. While some symptoms are relatively obvious as to what the condition is and the patient is treated appropriately, medical conditions with subtle indicators are harder to pinpoint.

An example is if a person is having a stroke. There are clear signs that this is the medical issue such as paralysis on one side of the body and an inability to speak. If it is a less obvious symptom like dizziness, then it is more complicated to discern and there is a higher chance of a mistake.

Eleven percent of diseases are misdiagnosed. The frequency of misdiagnosis depends on the disease itself.

For events like heart attacks, the rate was 1.5%; strokes were at more than 17%; and spinal abscesses were wrongly diagnosed 62% of the time.

The following five medical conditions account for four in ten incidences of people becoming permanently disabled and losing their lives: strokes, lung cancer, pneumonia, sepsis and blood clots.

Know the state laws regarding medical malpractice

Clearly, this is something to think about if a person or their loved one unexpectedly gets worse after seeking medical care. In Montana, it is not simply a matter of suspicion and pursuing a legal case.

There is a statute of limitations for a medical malpractice claim under the law. The person or their family will have two years from the time the injury occurred or two years from when they discovered there was a medical mistake.

It is important to remember that the law considers “reasonable diligence” meaning that the victim’s case could hinge on when they should have known something was amiss with the diagnosis, care and result.

Since these cases are complex and it is hard to know when misdiagnosis was a factor, people will need assistance with deciding how to proceed. This is essential.

Even if there is only a minor indication that the physician and other medical professionals made an error, it is wise to seek advice immediately to determine what can be done to hold them accountable and cover for the financial, personal and emotional challenges that came about.


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