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Diagnostic errors a common reason for medical malpractice payouts

Medicine and treatment has come quite a way. However, for the optimal chance of survival, it is critical patients receive a diagnosis in a timely matter. This means that a delayed diagnosis or a misdiagnosis can be the matter between life and death for a New York City resident.

Take for example if a New York City resident has breast cancer. However, the mammogram is misread and treatment is not started as soon as possible. This is a frightening scenario as a late diagnosis can end up resulting in more invasive procedures and more aggressive radiation and chemotherapy. For some, this delayed diagnosis can even mean death.

Delayed diagnosis and misdiagnosis are also more common than many might think. According to a recent study, when it comes to medical malpractice payouts, diagnostic errors were among the most common. Researchers found that out of more than 100,000 payouts, those related to errors in diagnosing made up 28.6 percent of the payouts. Of those payouts, close to 40 percent were related to errors that led to death and almost 34 percent listed disabilities related to those errors.

What this means is that more needs to be done to prevent diagnostic errors. However, Dr. David E. Newman-Toker, who is a neurology professor at Johns Hopkins, said in order to prevent these errors, everyone needs to be working together. This means doctors, hospitals and insurers need to be on the same page. However, at this point, no one institution views diagnostic errors as just its problem.

Of course the hope is that more is done to prevent these types of medical errors from happening in the first place. This being said though, when there are cases where a patient is misdiagnosed or does not receive the correct diagnosis in a timely matter, this could be grounds for a medical malpractice case. An attorney with experience handling these types of cases in New York City would be able to provide more information on what next steps need to be taken.

Source: The New York Times, "Why Doctors Are Sued," Nicholas Bakalar, April 29, 2013

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