The Institute of Medicine released a report entitled “Improving Diagnosis in Health Care,” which contains some troubling statistics on the rates of misdiagnosis in American medicine. Researchers preparing the report lamented the fact that there have been inadequate studies done on misdiagnosis, so there is not enough information to assess the impact of this type of error on patient outcomes. However, even with the limited data that has become available on diagnostic errors, it is clear that misdiagnosis of medical conditions is a major problem within the American medical care system.
Misdiagnosis can lead to an Atlanta medical malpractice claim. Patients whose conditions are diagnosed incorrectly could experience delays in treatment as their conditions become worse and sometimes incurable. An inaccurate diagnosis could also cause harm to patients who receive the wrong treatment.
An Atlanta misdiagnosis attorney should be consulted when any mistakes in diagnosis are made that cause a condition to worsen or that result in economic and/or non-financial loss to patients.
Misdiagnosis a Leading Cause of Atlanta Medical Malpractice Claims and Patient Injuries
According to a US News report on the Institute of Medicine research, approximately five percent of adults each year who seek outpatient care will not receive an accurate diagnosis of their medical condition. At least one American out of every 20 who goes to a medical care provider for help is going to receive the wrong diagnosis.
There are many reasons for these diagnostic errors including:
- Superficial assumptions made when ordering tests: Doctors may be over-reliant on their past experiences and may order tests based on what their past history has told them, rather than based on the specific information provided by the patient. When the wrong test is ordered, a misdiagnosis or delayed diagnosis is much more likely to occur.
- Poorly coordinated care: Doctors, technicians and professionals who work in laboratories are often forced to do many tasks at once and are faced with constant distraction as they attempt to multi-task. This can lead to mistakes in test administration or lab testing procedures.
- Failure to follow up: Doctors could identify most misdiagnoses early if they followed up with patients on treatment effectiveness. Unfortunately, too many doctors do not follow up appropriately with their patients.
- Excessive testing: Too many tests have created complications with interpretation and with assessment of which tests are actually effective.
- Technological issues in the healthcare industry. Electronic medical records and other health IT has been lagging behind other tech innovations, and effective use of electronic records has not yet been achieved on a widespread basis.
Whatever the specific cause of a diagnostic error, it can have deadly consequences. Misdiagnosis plays a role in one out of 10 patient deaths and diagnostic mistakes account for up to 17 percent of hospital adverse events.
Diagnostic errors are also the top cause of medical malpractice claims in which patients are compensated, and represent the largest share of total malpractice payouts. Errors in diagnosis are twice as likely to result in the death of the patient, as compared with other types of medical error.
The Atlanta medical malpractice lawyers at Sammons & Carpenter, P.C. can represent patients or their families after a misdiagnosis. Call today at (404) 814-8949 or contact us online to schedule your free consultation.