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Recent Report Says Diagnostic Errors are Largest Source of Medical Malpractice Claims

According to a recent report, errors related to diagnostic studies were the largest source of medical malpractice claims across a five-year period. The report was prepared by Coverys, a malpractice services provider. In preparing the report, the authors reviewed 10,618 medical malpractice claims made from 2013 to 2017. The authors found that 33% of malpractice claims were related to errors made during patient diagnosis and more than half of those claims involved poor clinical decisions. Claims involving surgical procedures came in second at 24% followed by medical management claims at 14%. Of the 10,618 claims, researchers noted that 54% of diagnoses-related claims were high-severity and 36% resulted in death. Researchers noted that vulnerabilities in the diagnostic process can begin with the first patient visit and continue all the way through to the follow-up phase after evaluation, testing, and treatment. For example, 33% of diagnostic-related claims occurred because the doctors failed to appropriately evaluate the patient, including obtaining a detailed patient and family history and performing a physical examination of the patient. Approximately 52% of claims involved diagnostic tests and lab tests, including errors in ordering, performing, transmitting. and interpreting the tests. Coverys researchers found that the majority of diagnosis-related claims stem from general medicine (24%), followed by hospital and facility-related claims (19%), radiology (14%), medical subspecialties (11%), emergency medicine (11%), and surgery (9%). According to the report, of the 3,466 closed claims from 2013 to 2017 with diagnosis-related allegations, claims involving cancer were the most prevalent, followed by infections, cardiac/vascular conditions, fractures/dislocations, and myocardial infarctions. To improve accuracy in making diagnoses, the authors recommended a team-based approach in which doctors are encouraged to discuss clinical cases with others.

If you or someone you know has been a victim of medical malpractice, contact an experienced attorney at Abraham, Watkins, Nichols, Agosto, Aziz & Stogner by calling 713-396-3964 or toll free at 800-594-4884.

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