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Diagnostic Errors

Diagnostic Errors

New York City Medical Malpractice Attorney

Did you know that diagnostic errors cause approximately 160,000 adverse patient events every year? Failure to diagnose and misdiagnosis can cause serious injury and even death. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, diagnostic error accounts for 17% of preventable errors among hospitalized patients. That same study, based on patients hospitalized in New York in 1984, found that 3.7% of all patients had experienced an accidental injury. Of those patient injuries, 28% were caused by negligent care.

Why do doctors make diagnostic mistakes?

Researchers suggest that there are four main deviations from heuristics (rules of thumb) that can cause doctors and others in the healthcare industry to make diagnosis mistakes. Those four main categories include:

  1. Physician bias – Doctors make thousands of diagnoses throughout their careers. The benefit of this is experience, but the downfall can be bias. A doctor might wrongfully assume that because a patient displays similar characteristics to a past patient, that this new patient should have the same diagnosis.
  2. Favoring initial assumptions – This type of diagnostic mistake originates from a doctor prematurely “landing the plane” so-to-speak, even after additional evidence points to a different diagnosis.
  3. Assumptions about the patient – Some also call this “framing effects.” It describes a bias about the patient that influences the doctor’s diagnosis. The DHHS gives the example of a doctor treating a heroin-addicted patient for opiate withdrawal, when in reality, the patient had bowel perforation.
  4. Blind obedience to standardized procedures – In lieu of discernment and careful checking of all possible options, some doctors can commit diagnostic errors by blindly adhering to accepted medical standards.

Commonly Misdiagnosed Conditions

A doctor can still incorrectly diagnose a patient even when meeting the standard of care. In other words, a doctor isn’t negligent every time they fail to make the correct diagnosis. It is when a doctor’s conduct fails to meet the standard of care and the patient suffers harm as a result that a diagnostic error claim could be established. Some of the most commonly misdiagnosed conditions include:

For more information on conditions that are difficult to diagnose and those that are commonly misdiagnosed, visit the AARP, EveryDay Health, and CNN.

How do I know if I have a medical malpractice claim?

Generally, medical malpractice claims are established on these four principles:

  1. There was an established doctor-patient relationship
  2. The doctor failed to adhere to the standard of care (was negligent)
  3. The patient suffered real damages (mental and/or physical)
  4. There was a proximate cause between the negligence and the harm

These cases are extremely complex and best evaluated by an attorney experienced in this field. If you believe that a diagnostic error caused you or a loved one harm, we invite you to contact our firm today. When it comes to your health, a quick and accurate diagnosis is necessary to receive the treatment you need. If your condition went undiagnosed or misdiagnosed, please contact us today for a free consultation.

More Than $300 Million In Verdicts & Settlements For Our Clients

The Perecman Firm, P.L.L.C.'s team of NYC personal injury attorneys have recovered more than $300 million in verdicts and settlements for their clients. We understand the financial and emotional toll a serious accident can have on your life. That’s why we dedicate ourselves to maximizing your recovery and securing what you deserve.

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    Medical malpractice. Child’s brain damage. Total amount of payout of structured settlement
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    Negligent delivery of infant results in cerebral palsy.
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