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Study: Missed diagnoses leading cause of medical malpractice claims

Sadly, every year countless patients suffer severe injuries due to hospital errors or doctor negligence. In many of these instances, the afflicted patients are able to hold negligent hospital staff accountable for their actions through medical malpractice claims.

Interestingly, a comprehensive study out of Ireland recently examined the main causes of many of these medical malpractice claims. Specifically, the study has discovered that missed diagnoses – especially missed diagnoses of cancer and heart attacks – are the leading cause of medical malpractice claims.

Findings of medical malpractice study

Researchers involved in the study, which was recently published in BMJ Open, examined over 7,150 journal papers concentrating on medical malpractice claims. In particular, researchers were looking at medical malpractice claims involving primary care doctors. Ultimately, researchers employed 34 different journal studies from several different countries in their study. These studies included 15 from the U.S., nine from Britain, seven from Australia, two from France and one from Canada.

Researchers found that between 26 percent and 63 percent – depending on the study – of medical malpractice claims are based on missed diagnoses, with death tragically being the most common result of such missed diagnoses. Moreover, according to the study, cancer and heart attacks are the most common conditions in which misdiagnoses lead to malpractice claims. Additionally, appendicitis, bone fractures and ectopic pregnancy are also quite commonly misdiagnosed.

The second leading cause of medical malpractice claims, according to the study, is drug errors – accounting for 6 percent to 20 percent of the medical malpractice claims that the researchers examined.

Missed diagnosis of heart attacks

It is not entirely surprising that the missed diagnoses of heart attacks were one of the leading causes of medical practice claims. For instance, all too often emergency room patients complain of intermittent chest pain only to have these subtle symptoms dismissed. And, when these pains turn out to by symptoms of a heart attack, the patient can suffer severe pain, injury or even death. Tragically, these adverse consequences could likely have been mitigated had emergency room staff simply followed protocol in the first place and ruled out a heart attack.

If you or a loved one has been injured as a result of a missed diagnosis or other medical mistake, it is important to first seek treatment in order to remedy the situation. Subsequently, it is also a good idea to speak with an experienced medical malpractice attorney. A skilled attorney can review the facts of your case and help explain your options given your particular situation.

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