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Most Harmful Medical Error: Bad Diagnoses

While surgical mistakes and drug overdoses are common forms of medical malpractice that grab headlines, it is actually diagnosis errors that account for the most severe patient harm and the largest share of malpractice payouts. 

Errors are made whenever a diagnosis is missed, wrong, or delayed, as detected by some subsequent definitive test or finding. Severe harm can result from delay or failure to treat a condition, or from treatment for a condition a patient did not actually have.

Diagnostic error-related malpractice payments amounted to $38.8 billion between 1986 and 2010, according to researchers, with an estimated 80,000 to 160,000 patients suffering misdiagnosis-related, potentially preventable, significant permanent injury or death every year in the U.S.

"Diagnostic errors have been underappreciated and under-recognized because they're difficult to measure and keep track of owning to the frequent gap between the time the error occurs and when it's detected," said David E. Newman-Toker, associate professor of neurology at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. "These are frequent problems that have played second fiddle to medical and surgical errors, which are evident more immediately." Read the full details here:

There's no easy cure for bad diagnoses

80,000 to 160,000 people suffer permanent injury or death because they are improperly diagnosed, but these numbers do not even account for those who are misdiagnosed and do not suffer severe injury. Altogether, it could be as many as 15% of all patients affected by bad diagnoses. Not surprisingly, misdiagnoses accounts for most malpractice payouts.

If you or a family member believe you have a medical malpractice case, including diagnosis errors, contact Crandall & Pera Law today for a free case evaluation. Crandall & Pera Law is available to help answer your questions and guide you in determining your next steps.

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