When people in New Jersey feel ill, they often go to the doctor to receive a clear diagnosis. Unfortunately, on far too many occasions, they may instead be given incorrect answers and improper or ineffective treatment. According to two studies, misdiagnosis is the most common reason why patients file medical malpractice claims. According to one insurer, 46 percent of closed claims filed between 2013 and 2017 were related to the diagnostic process.
In addition, these claims reflected an even larger share of those that were paid out to the injured patients: 68 percent of paid costs were related to misdiagnosis claims. In 45 percent of the claims, the patient passed away due to complications. Another study found that 38 percent of all malpractice claims involving children were related to misdiagnosis. There are a number of reasons that ill people may be misdiagnosed, but in many cases, it is due to a cursory or inadequate examination process. Doctors may not order necessary tests, fail to follow up with patients or neglect to thoroughly examine them.
One study estimated that errors in diagnosis may be the third most common cause of death within a hospital. The consequences of a mistaken diagnosis can be significant, especially if a progressive disease like cancer is involved. A delayed diagnosis may mean that the window of opportunity to successfully treat the condition is closed in advance. For cancer patients, a failure to diagnose can be fatal. In other cases, inappropriate treatments recommended due to the mistaken diagnosis can cause additional harm.
Misdiagnosis and other medical errors can have a devastating impact on patients and their families. People who have suffered a worsened medical condition due to a doctor's mistake may wish to consult with a medical malpractice attorney about the potential to seek compensation for their damages.