Misdiagnosis behind majority of malpractice claims

Many hospitalized patients in Texas and across the U.S. die from diagnostic errors. In fact, the National Academy of Medicine stated in 2015 that these errors may be the third leading cause of death among such patients. Now, two separate reports have found that diagnosis-related allegations are behind most malpractice claims whether the patients are inpatient or outpatient.

The reports were issued by Coverys and The Doctors Company, two malpractice insurers. Coverys analyzed some 1,800 closed claims against physicians between 2013 and 2017, finding that 46 percent were diagnosis-related. Forty-five percent of the patients involved in these claims died. Sixty-eight percent of all indemnity costs paid out were due to these claims.

The Doctors Company reviewed 1,215 claims closed from 2008 to 2017; it found that 38 percent of pediatric claims involved a misdiagnosis and that the most common cause of misdiagnosis was an inadequate patient assessment. Many cases involved primary care providers failing to capture a complete family history, perform a complete physical exam and reconcile test results with signs and symptoms.

Other common allegations involved the ordering of diagnostic tests or follow-ups and referrals. Primary care providers not only assess patients but also decide what treatments they undergo and monitor any high-risk medications they take. Negligence among PCPs, then, can result in serious harm to patients.

Those who are harmed by a doctor's negligence may have a case under personal injury law, specifically under medical malpractice law. To file a lawsuit, they will need to prove negligence while meeting other requirements, so they may want an attorney to assist them. Malpractice claims can end in settlements averaging hundreds of thousands of dollars, so the other side will likely be aggressive in denying the claim. The attorney may handle all negotiations, taking the case to court as a last resort.

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