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Misdiagnosis & worsened condition, vast cause of legal filings


People in Boston who are subjected to a misdiagnosis for a health issue are not alone. Studies have shown that a large number of mistakes made when diagnosing health problems have led to major payouts from legal filings. Recent studies showed that almost $39 billion was paid out from 350,000 claims over the previous 25 years. Researchers who looked into this problem studied data from the years 1986 to 2010. 35 percent of the mistakes that were made that resulted in payouts were based on misdiagnosis. The studies focused on cases that wound up with a payment made to claimants.

While most errors made with diagnosis happened to people who were being treated on an outpatient basis, those that happened with people who were hospitalized were more often fatal. According to the study, as many as 160,000 people per year were victims of death or permanent damage because of there errors. Depending on the issue, the aftereffects can have greater significance to the patient's long-term prognosis. For example, to fail to detect cancer will leave a patient vulnerable to the spread of disease and worsened condition.

While this is not an intentional mistake on the part of doctors, it is still a problem that can take a treatable issue and cause severe damage to the patient. Awareness of the commonality of the diagnostic mistakes is a key to patients avoiding worsened condition because of a mistake made by the medical professionals in whose care they are placing their trust and the trust of their loved ones. In some instances, extensive testing and more questions asked by the patients can prevent mistakes from growing deadly.

People who are victimized by a misdiagnosis who have been made sicker or lost a loved one need to be aware of the prevalence of this problem. The number of people who are misdiagnosed in the United States every year is an ongoing issue. When this happens, speaking to a legal professional experienced in pursuing cases for those who have been damaged or killed can be of great assistance.

Source: USNews.com, "'Misdiagnosis' Leading Cause of U.S. Malpractice Payouts: Study," Denise Mann, April 23, 2013

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