Medical Malpractice Based on Failure to Diagnose on the Rise

Medical malpractice cases can arise out of a many different kinds of health care provider negligence. One of the more common malpractice claims seen by Ridgewood medical negligence lawyers is injury caused by failure to diagnose a patient’s cancer or other serious illness in a timely fashion.

A new study in the Journal of the American College of Radiology shows that malpractice claims based on diagnosis rose by about 40% between 1996 and 2003. The study found three major causes for these claims: failure to inform patients and physicians of test results, delays in reporting findings and long turnaround times before diagnostic testing results are received.

Payments for malpractice claims based on these three categories of error increased from $21.7 million in 1991 to $91 million in 2010.

The study suggested that the increases in medical malpractice claims based on failure to diagnose may be partly due to the fact that diagnostic testing capabilities are growing much faster than the medical system’s notification processes can handle.

How Can Patients Help Protect Themselves?

Unfortunately, a late diagnosis can mean the difference between survival and death for too many patients.

As the study noted, many missed or delayed diagnoses are the result of poor communication between the laboratory, the physician and the patient. Patients can help improve this communication by being proactive in their discussions with healthcare providers. Make sure you thoroughly report all your symptoms. If you were supposed to hear back about a test result and you haven’t, call the doctor’s office to follow up.

If you think you might have a serious illness, don’t wait to go to the doctor. Make an appointment to get evaluated as soon as possible.

Not every missed or delayed diagnosis is a result of medical malpractice, but many are. If you think you may be the victim of medical negligence, contact an experienced New Jersey medical malpractice attorney who can evaluate your claim and advise you of your options.

Source: The Clinical Advisor, “Better Diagnostic Test Reporting Needed to Avoid Malpractice Claims” Ann W. Latner, Nov. 14, 2011.

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