After the publicized death of a 12-year-old boy last year, who was sent home from an emergency room after doctors misdiagnosed the systemic infection that quickly killed him, the media put a human face on the problem of misdiagnosis in America.
Misdiagnosis “happens all the time,” stated David Newman-Toker, who studies diagnostic errors. “This is an enormous problem, the hidden part of the iceberg of medical errors that dwarfs other kinds of mistakes.”
Studies have found that diagnostic errors typically result from flawed ways of thinking, oftentimes coupled with negligence, and not because a disease is rare or exotic.
The issue of misdiagnosis is not a new one. In 1991, the Harvard Medical Practice Study found that misdiagnosis accounted for 14 percent of adverse events, with 75 percent of errors involving negligence, such as failure by doctors to follow up on test results.
Researchers say that despite their prevalence, such mistakes have been largely ignored. They were mentioned only twice in the Institute of Medicine’s landmark 1999 report on medical errors.
“You need data to start doing anything,” stated internist Mark L. Graber, founding president of the Society to Improve Diagnosis in Medicine. Graber stated that despite dozens of quality measures, he is unaware of “a single hospital in this country trying to count diagnostic errors.”
Misdiagnosis is a type of medical malpractice. If a disease is treatable in early stages, progression of the disease can mean increased medical bills, extended pain and suffering, lost time from work and even death if the disease is at a stage too advanced to treat.
In the above video, our firm’s Paulette Chapman further explains medical malpractice.
If you feel that you or a loved one has been a victim of medical malpractice, contact a Maryland, Washington, D.C. and Virginia injury attorney today at (202) 659-5500 so we can assist you in pursuing your claim.
[Did You Know: The Joint Commission estimates wrong-site surgery occurs approximately 40 times per week in the U.S.]