What Victims Should Know About Medical Misdiagnosis In Maryland, DC and Virginia

What You Must Know Before Pursing Financial Compensation With A Medical Malpractice Attorney

According to the site, WrongDiagnosis.com, misdiagnosis occurs at a much higher rate than people believe. Misdiagnosis occurs at an alarming rate of 20% to 40% in hospital emergency rooms and ICU’s to 1.4% in cancer biopsies.

The chance of experiencing a misdiagnosis ranges from 8% to 40% according to surveys conducted of patients. These statistics make misdiagnosis one of the most common types of medical mistakes. In the Institute of Medicine’s (IOM) 1999 report, To Err is Human, its study showed 44,000 – 98,000 fatalities occur annually as the result of medical error.

An accurate diagnosis is the foundation upon which the decision to seek treat or not with any type of healthcare issue is based. A misdiagnosis or crack so to say in the foundation has the potential to create an avalanche of events, all affecting not only the patient but their family as well.

There are three major categories of misdiagnosis...

  • False positive: misdiagnosis of a disease that is non-existent
  • False negative: failure to diagnose a disease or condition
  • Equivocal results: an interpretation that is not without a definitive diagnosis

The most common misdiagnosis is failure to diagnose. The most common medical malpractice lawsuits involve heart attacks, breast cancer, appendicitis, lung cancer and colon cancer. However, the most commonly misdiagnosed are not necessarily the ones most resulting in malpractice lawsuits. Diabetes and hypertension are very often misdiagnosed, but do not lead as quickly to severe injury as cancer misdiagnosis.

Specialization may play a large part in misdiagnosis. A recent study published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute showed that 71% of the time some physicians failed to identify breast cancer, while other physicians were very highly accurate with an error rate of 3%.

The study found that the degree of specialization and volume of experience played a major role in accurate diagnosis. Physicians who interpreted 2,500 to 4,000 specialized studies per year showed the lowest misdiagnosis rate. Physicians who are more experienced have been more likely to detect a cancer. Increased sensitivity with mammography, along with the explanation to the patient for the reason for increased compression has shown a significantly higher detection ratio.

As much as patients would like to think that every doctor will double check with other physicians or specialists, consult their medical books and latest research, this just is not the case. The average time spent with a patient is 15 minutes. This gives the doctor very little time to ask question, make a good diagnosis, order tests and answer questions. Often the most common conditions and diseases will naturally be at the forefront and to err is human when stress and long hours are added to the mix.

In studies conducted from autopsies, results have show that doctors seriously misdiagnose fatal illnesses approximately 20% of the time. This is a significant amount leading to millions of patients who are treated for the wrong disease. Even more astounding is the fact that the rate has barely changed since the 1930’s.

Doctors, nurses, technicians are not paid to come up with the correct diagnosis. They are paid to perform surgery, do tests and dispense drugs. There is no bonus per se for curing a patient or discovering the correct diagnosis. Likewise, there is no penalty for failing to diagnose correctly. Yet, malpractice does make every physician stand up and take notice. This is sad, mostly due to the exorbitant cost of malpractice insurance.

One of the sad effects of misdiagnosis is treatment of the wrong condition. Ongoing treatment of a misdiagnosis has the potential to result in severe health issues added to the misdiagnosis.

Some of the most misdiagnosed medical conditions mostly due to under-diagnosis or mild symptoms are:

  • Type 2 diabetes
  • High cholesterol
  • Hypertension
  • Osteoporosis
  • Sexually transmitted diseases, including Chlamydia, HPV, trichomoniasis, bacterial vaginosis or gonorrhea
  • Hemochromatosis
  • Chronic kidney disease
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Glaucoma

A very large proportion of malpractice cases seem to be based on misdiagnosis or delayed treatment due to misdiagnosis.

The top five conditions are...

  • Myocardial infarction
  • Breast cancer
  • Appendicitis
  • Lung Cancer
  • Colon Cancer

It should be noted that most of these are due to not only misdiagnosis, but also mismanaged diagnostic tests, which ultimately led to mistreatment.

Medical imaging is one of these diagnostic tools that unfortunately, are only as good as the person reading the film. Many times these tools are critical in the detection of life threatening conditions, yet fail to be diagnosed.

Studies have shown that radiological specific studies show significant errors, with a 25 to 30% rate of failure in diagnosis for disease (false negative) and a 1.6 to 2% rate of cases that were really normal (false positive). These numbers have consistently been repeated throughout the years with little change in the past 50 years.

The conclusion has shown that eighty percent of errors are perceptual, which mean they are present on the film yet not detected by the person reading the film.

The added stress on the patient and the family due to the anxiety and worry of a misdiagnosis is enormous. Their disease or condition may increase to the point where the beneficial treatment is no longer beneficial or they may stress over a condition not improving, despite multitudes of treatments. The financial loss along with the emotional stress may seem insurmountable when the realization of what has just happened fully settles in.

Our medical malpractice legal team is available to help you sort out the many questions you or your families have if you believe you have been the victim of a medical misdiagnosis. Contact us today for a FREE consultation.

Call our medical malpractice attorneys at Greenberg & Bederman at 301-589-2200 or toll free 800-800-1144. You may also fill out the free legal consultation form below and one of our medical misdiagnosis lawyers will reach out to you promptly.

The initial medical malpractice consultation is free of charge, and if we agree to handle your case, we will work on a contingency fee basis, which means we get paid for our services only if there is a monetary recovery of funds. A lawsuit must be filed before an applicable expiration date, known as a statute of limitations so please call right away to ensure that you do not waive your right to possible compensation.

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