Diagnostic ErrorsMay 30, 2018
According to a recent report published by Coverys, a malpractice services provider, diagnostic errors were responsible for 33 percent of all medical malpractice claims from 2013 to 2017. Over half of those claims involved poor clinical decisions. While surgical or procedural claims and medical management claims came in second and third, respectively, diagnostic-related claims are the only one of the top three malpractice claims that have not improved over the years. The study highlights some of the challenges that physicians face when making clinical decisions.
Researchers reviewed 10,618 medical malpractice claims from 2013 to 2017, and found that approximately 36 percent of diagnosis-related claims involved a fatality. In addition, 36 percent took place in an outpatient setting. According to the vice president of business analytics at Coverys, this corresponds to the trend towards outpatient care, as opposed to inpatient settings.
The analysis found physicians are particularly vulnerable to making mistakes in the diagnostic process in the following scenarios:
- Approximately 33 percent of diagnostic errors occurred after the patient was not properly evaluated by the physician. In some of these cases, the physician failed to obtain a complete family history.
- About 52 percent of claims were a result of doctors choosing the wrong test, performing the test incorrectly, or misinterpreting the test results.
Fourteen percent of the claims studied were filed against radiologists, who create detailed reports for doctors. The reports are often quite long and complicated, so information can be missed by the physician, including tests ordered by the radiologist. According to the report, when physicians are overworked, it becomes more difficult to make a thorough diagnosis. This often results in misdiagnoses.
How to Avoid Medical Mistakes
One way to avoid diagnostic errors is to adopt a team-based approach, wherein doctors can discuss clinical cases with other physicians. According to an author of the report, when there are a number of qualified physicians offering an opinion about a diagnosis, it can improve accuracy, making it is less likely that a medical mistake will be made.
In addition, healthcare facilities should create a culture where doctors feel free to express any uncertainties they might have about a diagnosis. Seeking help from other colleagues should be encouraged. People often think that doctors know everything and are incapable of making mistakes. Unfortunately, this is not the case, and these mistakes can jeopardize a patient’s health.
Baltimore Medical Malpractice Lawyers at LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton Protect Victims of Diagnostic Errors
If you or a loved one has been injured or become sick as a result of a medical mistake, it is in your best interest to contact the highly skilled and experienced Baltimore medical malpractice lawyers at LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton as soon as possible. We will conduct a thorough investigation into your case and determine whether the healthcare provider responsible for your care was negligent in any way. We will work tirelessly to protect your rights and will not stop fighting for you until justice has been served. Our dedicated team will pursue the maximum financial compensation you deserve. To set up a free, confidential consultation, call us today at 800-547-4LAW (4529) or contact us online.
Our offices are located in Baltimore, Columbia, Glen Burnie, and Towson, allowing us to represent medical malpractice victims in Maryland, including those in Anne Arundel County, Baltimore County, Carroll County, Harford County, Howard County, Montgomery County, Maryland’s Western Counties, Prince George’s County, Queen Anne’s County, Southern Maryland, and the Eastern Shore, as well as the communities of Catonsville, Essex, Halethorpe, Middle River, rosedale, Gwynn Oak, Brooklandville, Dundalk, Pikesville, Nottingham, Windsor Mill, Lutherville, Timonium, Sparrows Point, Ridgewood, and Elkridge.