Ohio residents may have heard of the “Big Three,” which refers to the three medical conditions that are most liable to be misdiagnosed: cancers, vascular events and infections. A study led by Johns Hopkins University has looked into the rate at which patients with one of the Big Three conditions is a victim of a diagnostic error, and the results are as follows.
The study looked at the data for 91,755 patients gathered from 28 previous studies, and it focused on 15 conditions (five under each of the Big Three categories). Among the cancers were breast, lung and colorectal cancer. The vascular events included heart attack, stroke and myocardial infarction. Some of the infections were sepsis, pneumonia and spinal abscesses.
Overall, nearly 1 in 10 patients with a Big Three medical condition were misdiagnosed, received a delayed diagnosis or never had a doctor’s explanation of their problem communicated. Patients with myocardial infarction were only misdiagnosed 2.2% of the time whereas 62.1% of spinal abscess patients were misdiagnosed.
On average, 1 in 20 patients with whom a diagnostic error occurred suffered serious harm. The rate was 1.2% for MI patients but 35.6% for spinal abscess patients. Many delayed diagnoses were the result of an initial misdiagnosis; this was so for 1 in 4 lung cancer cases.
Sometimes, a misdiagnosis is the result of negligence on the doctor’s part: that is, a failure to adhere to an objective standard of medical care. When negligence can be established as a link to a patient’s injuries, that patient may be able to file a medical malpractice claim and seek compensatory damages. These damages could include the cost of any treatments already undergone and the cost of future care, such as for a disability. The patient may want a lawyer to assist.