New Study Highlights the Fatal Effects of Wrong and Delayed Medical Diagnoses
July 23, 2019
According to a recent study conducted by the Society to Improve Diagnosis in Medicine (SIDM), one-third of medical malpractice cases resulting in permanent disability or death are caused by incorrect or delayed medical diagnoses. Medical errors are one of the leading causes of death in the United States, with approximately 250,000 people dying because of them every year.
Not only did the study confirm that inaccurate or delayed medical diagnoses act as widespread and deadly obstacles to safe and effective medical care, but also that approximately 75% are linked to just three different disease categories. These categories are:
- Vascular events (e.g. coronary artery disease, stroke)
What is Medical Negligence?
Incorrect and delayed medical diagnoses are among the most fatal mistakes in the practice of medicine. To further complicate the matter, rates of burnout among healthcare personnel runs rampant, which puts patients in even greater danger for receiving substandard medical care.
Although mistakes happen, some are the direct result of medical negligence. Medical negligence is when a healthcare provider faultily performs or omits something considered to be standard medical practice, and causes harm to the patient because of that negligence.
Incorrect and/or Delayed Medical Diagnoses
An incorrect medical diagnosis can result in the death of or permanent disability to a patient. Usually in these cases, a doctor or healthcare professional fails to interpret a patient’s test results, and as a consequence, the patient receives the wrong type of treatment or simply no treatment whatsoever. When healthcare personnel fail to correctly identify a patient’s condition, the results can be catastrophic.
Delayed diagnoses can also be deadly. The correct diagnosis of a patient can be delayed in a variety of ways, such as:
- Misinterpreting test results (or even reading the wrong patient’s results);
- Ordering the wrong tests;
- Failure to act on abnormal test results, and:
- Treatment based on an incorrect diagnosis
While this list is in no way exhaustive, it is important to remember that an incorrect or delayed diagnosis in and of itself does not constitute medical negligence. Doctors and other healthcare employees are human, so diagnostic errors are bound to occur. But, some healthcare professionals act without competence and deviate from the accepted standard of care. When someone gets harmed during treatment involving a negligent provider, it is helpful to discuss options with an attorney.
Patients: Be Your Own Healthcare Advocates
Many studies have shown that one of the best ways patients can guard themselves against medical errors is to be actively engaged in their own treatment plans. According to the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP), it is critical to be “an active member of your health care team”. Here are some tips for being your own healthcare advocate:
- Keep your healthcare team informed of allergies, medications (including supplements, herbs, and vitamins), and all other pertinent health information. Never assume that a provider knows something you have not told them;
- Get information on medications (e.g. dosage, side effects, possible interactions, ingredients, etc.) every time they are prescribed and each time they are picked up;
- Always talk to your pharmacist. Ask questions about the dosage, the safest way to measure it (for liquid prescriptions), and always confirm that the medicine was prescribed by your provider;
- If possible, research hospitals before selecting one for your procedure. Research shows that patients experience more positive results when treated at facilities with lots of experience with their condition or procedure;
- Before any surgical procedure, discuss the surgical plan. This is the best way to prevent wrong-site surgeries, which are 100% avoidable, and:
- Ensure that all healthcare workers with direct contact to you wash their hands
The AAFP has many other healthcare safety tips. If you would like to learn more about how to be an active member on your healthcare team, please visit: https://familydoctor.org/medical-errors-tips-to-help-prevent-them/.
Philadelphia Medical Malpractice Lawyers at Galfand Berger, LLP Representing Injured Individuals Since 1947
If you were a victim of medical negligence, we are happy to answer your questions and have one of Philadelphia personal injury lawyers review your case for free. With offices located in Philadelphia, Bethlehem, Lancaster, and Reading, Galfand Berger serves clients throughout Pennsylvania and New Jersey. To schedule a consultation, call us at 800-222-8792 or complete our online contact form.