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Quick Facts About Medical Diagnosis Errors


While you may have heard the horror stories about a sponge being left inside a patient or a doctor operating on the wrong limb, the truth is that most instances of medical malpractice involve diagnostic errors. The National Academy of Medicine has defined a “misdiagnosis” in two ways:

  • Failure to offer an accurate and timely explanation of a medical condition; and
  • Failing to properly communicate the explanation to the patient.

With either scenario, there can be life-threatening or debilitating harm to the patient. A Florida misdiagnosis lawyer can tell you more about your legal rights and how to file a  claim for monetary damages. A few quick facts about diagnostic errors may also help you understand the severity of the problem.

  1. Misdiagnosis is the most common medical mistake. According to researchers, an estimated 12 million Americans experience a diagnostic error every year, making this category of medical mistakes is the most common. There is some evidence to indicate that improper diagnosis could harm more patients than all other types of medical errors combined, as around 1 in 10 patients is misdiagnosed, at least initially.

Around 40,000 – 80,000 individuals die because of diagnostic issues in hospitals alone, not counting other clinical environments. The figures regarding misdiagnosis leading to disability or injury are likely much higher. 

  1. Diagnostic errors are an issue across all medical specialties. Still, there are some practice areas where malpractice claims are more prevalent than others. Mistakes occur most frequently in primary care, emergency medicine, and surgical specialties. It may come as a surprise to some, but errors in diagnosing rare or unusual medical conditions is not in the majority of misdiagnosis. Improper diagnosis of very common conditions – including vascular issues, infection, and cancer – account for approximately 75 percent of deaths and disability.
  1. Mistakes in diagnosis can occur in multiple ways. Diagnostic failures can happen when a health care provider:
  • Fails to diagnose, which means the patient is not receiving essential medical care for a medical condition;
  • Makes an inaccurate diagnosis, so patients are receiving improper treatment for a medical condition they don’t have – while proper care is being withheld; or
  • Delays in diagnosing, especially where a medical condition (e.g., stroke or heart attack) could have been treated with a timely, accurate diagnosis. For some patients, the condition may become terminal.
  1. The data may not reveal the true picture on misdiagnosis. As disturbing as they may be, the statistics on diagnostic failures may be on the low end because of issues with reporting. The top sources of information include autopsy reports, physician self-reporting, patient complaints, and medical malpractice claims. The actual figures on errors in diagnosis are likely much higher.

Speak to a Florida Medical Misdiagnosis and Malpractice Attorney for Free 

If you suffered injuries or lost a loved one because of an error in diagnosis, you do have rights. The key to enforcing them is retaining a skilled medical malpractice lawyer to aggressively pursue the responsible parties. To learn more about your legal options, please contact Freidin Brown, P.A. to set up a free consultation at our offices in Miami or Fort Myers. One of our attorneys can assess your circumstances and explain your remedies.

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