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ER diagnostic errors big source of malpractice claims

Medical professionals who work in Ohio hospital emergency departments face high pressure when diagnosing patients. They typically see people during a crisis, and they might not know much about the medical history of patients prior to seeing them. This sometimes disrupts their ability to accurately assess medical problems. A study of over 1,300 closed malpractice insurance claims over five years by an insurance company identified the initial history and physical evaluation stage of care as the source of 44% of the insurance claims.

The study also detected errors due to the ordering or failing to order appropriate diagnostic tests in 27% of the cases. In 44% of the emergency department malpractice cases studied, clinical judgment emerged as a contributing factor to the mistakes. Three kinds of drugs, anticoagulants, antibiotics and opioids, accounted for 49% of complaints related to medications.

The majority of medical professional liability claims addressed mistakes in care for serious problems, such as heart attacks, aortic aneurysms or aortic ruptures. Other very serious issues cited by the study included infections, particularly sepsis, pneumonia and meningitis. Permanent injuries prompted patients to file 32% of the cases. Another 38% addressed allegations of medical malpractice that caused grave injury or death.

Due to the complexities of delivering medical care, claims of negligence regarding medical professionals or institutions must meet high legal standards. A person looking for answers in the aftermath of a misdiagnosis that led to harm could speak with an attorney. Independent medical investigators contacted by an attorney could provide an opinion about the quality of care. This testimony could support a malpractice claim that seeks compensation for additional medical expenses, lost income and other amounts.

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