The medical-pharmaceutical-industrial complex that controls U.S. healthcare would like to have you believe that healthcare costs increase primarily due to frivolous medical malpractice lawsuits. However, a recent study suggest that some of those claims are actually caused by doctor’s errors and that misdiagnosis or incorrect diagnoses are the leading cause of malpractice payouts, responsible for 35 percent of the $39 billion in medical malpractice claims paid.
The study reviewed 25 years of data from 350,000 claims. The research was published in the journal BJM Quality & Safety. The study found that a missed diagnoses the most likely to be associated with a death or disability and that those that occurred in the hospital were most likely to cause the death of the patient. Ironically, the author of the study noted this type of medical malpractice claim is not well tracked. He said, “They are completely underrepresented in terms of what we pay attention to.”
It is easy to understand why these diagnostic errors are so damaging and expensive. If a patient is misdiagnosed, it is unlikely that any treatment that follows will be successful. And in the most severe cases, misdiagnoses can quickly lead to the death of a patient. The author of the study commented that if a brain aneurysm is missed and the patient is sent home with an aspirin, they might not live long enough to come back for a second opinion.
In addition to doctor’s better tracking these misdiagnosis, so they can learn from their mistakes, it is important for patients to always press their doctors to explain their conclusions and treatments. If you sense something is wrong, do not fall victim to the “white coat syndrome.” Doctors can make mistakes and you do not want to pay for those errors with your life.
Source: Medline Plus, “‘Misdiagnosis’ Leading Cause of U.S. Malpractice Payouts: Study,” April 23, 2013