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Misdiagnosis major concern in malpractice cases

Misdiagnosis and medical mistakes may be some of the most concerning thoughts for people in Hawai'i when they enter the hospital. In fact, the largest single source of medical malpractice claims filed throughout the United States are diagnostic errors, according to study of claims between 2013 and 2017. Produced by a malpractice insurer, the report noted that 33 percent of claims filed were about mistakes made when diagnosing the patient, including failure to diagnose serious illnesses or misdiagnosis of an existing illness.

The report said that of those claims, around half involved poor medical decision-making on the part of the doctors involved. The other most common causes of malpractice claims were those about surgeries or procedures, at 24 percent, and those about medical management, at 14 percent of all claims. Other causes for malpractice claims have declined over the years, but claims based on diagnostic errors have remained steady.

The report reviewed 10,618 medical malpractice lawsuits. Of the claims related to diagnosis, 36 percent resulted in a death. In 33 percent of cases, doctors did not perform a full evaluation of the patient or collect relevant family medical history. Lab testing was a major concern, as 52 percent of claims involved an element related to lab testing errors, including misinterpreted results or selection of the wrong test. Malpractice claims can be more likely when doctors are overwhelmed at work, especially when they do not frequently discuss cases with colleagues.

People who have received a misdiagnosis can receive improper or even dangerous treatment while receiving no treatment for their actual illness. When patients have a worsened medical condition as a result of a failure to diagnose their disease correctly, they may benefit from consulting with a medical malpractice attorney. A lawyer might review their case and provide them with information about their potential next steps.

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