Many people may be surprised to learn that a failure to diagnose or a misdiagnosis of a medical issue is a more common problem than drug errors or wrong-site surgery. If a doctor practicing in the Philadelphia area improperly treats a medical condition and the patient’s condition worsens due to this negligence, a Philadelphia medical malpractice lawyer can help the patient seek remediation.
Recent studies demonstrate that a missed, incorrect or delayed diagnosis can often be life-threatening. One study showed that fatal diagnosis errors were equal to number of deaths caused annually by breast cancer. Misdiagnoses are also not limited to exotic or rare diseases, which may be difficult to recognize. A Veterans Affairs hospital study showed as many as 87 percent of errors involving common diseases like pneumonia could have led to serious patient harm, including death.
Although failure to diagnose is more common than other more highly publicized kinds of medical errors, there has been little effort to collect or analyze data around this problem. Medical experts suspect this is due to the complexity in determining fault for misdiagnosis, as well as the over-confidence many doctors have in their own ability to diagnose and properly treat patients. While nearly all doctors who participated in a 2011 survey believed that diagnostic errors could be prevented, about half said they encountered such errors at least monthly.
If a doctor who misses a diagnosis failed to act as a reasonably prudent doctor under similar circumstances would have, then that doctor may be negligent. Patients harmed by such negligence have the right to seek compensation for their injuries. Philadelphians subjected to additional harm due to a missed or failed diagnosis may deal with medical bills, lost wages, and emotional and physical pain. An attorney with experience dealing with such claims can help assist with evaluating whether or not a negligence suit can be brought, and which parties may serve as defendants in such an action.
Source: The Record, “Misdiagnosis more common than drug errors or wrong-site surgery,” Sandra G. Boodman, June 6, 2013