Medical mistakes are a top cause of injury and death for hospital patients in New Jersey and across the United States. According to a new study, most of these mistakes occur during the diagnostic phase of medical care and take place in three main disease categories.
For the study, which was published in the journal Diagnosis, researchers at Johns Hopkins Medicine in Baltimore examined data from over 11,000 U.S. malpractice cases and grouped all misdiagnosis incidents involving similar conditions into general medical categories. For example, there are dozens of different diagnosis codes for heart attacks and strokes, and the study placed them all into a category called “vascular events.” The authors of the study think it is the first time that misdiagnosis incidents have been organized this way.
The researchers found that misdiagnosis kills between 40,000 and 80,000 patients in U.S. hospitals each year. In addition, they determined that diagnosis errors cause serious harm to between 80,000 and 160,000 patients per year. They also found that nearly 75% of all misdiagnosis errors that caused serious harm occurred in the categories of cancers, vascular events and infections. Within those categories, lung cancer, stroke and sepsis were mostly commonly involved with diagnosis errors. Other commonly misdiagnosed conditions included heart attacks, meningitis, pneumonia, blood clots in the lungs and legs, skin cancer, prostate cancer and breast cancer.
Misdiagnosis can cause a patient to suffer a needlessly worsened medical condition and negatively impact his or her chances of survival. Victims of diagnosis errors might benefit from contacting a personal injury attorney about their case. After reviewing the details, legal counsel may recommend filing a medical malpractice lawsuit against the doctor who made the mistake. This might lead to a financial settlement that compensates the patient for various damages, including medical bills, lost wages, mental anguish and pain and suffering.