Baltimore Medical Malpractice Attorneys: Study Shows Diagnostic Errors Affect One in 20 U.S. Adults

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A recent study released by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) finds that diagnostic errors occur in approximately 5 percent of adult medical cases in the United States.

The study, published in the April 17 issue of BMJ Quality & Safety, states that as many as 12 million adults in the United States receive incorrect outpatient diagnoses each year. The report used data from three previous studies looking at errors in three areas: general primary care diagnosis, lung cancer diagnosis and colorectal cancer diagnosis. According to the study’s authors, these findings are significant because they are based on a large sample size, making this one of the most reliable estimates of diagnostic error in routine outpatient care.

The term “diagnostic errors” refers to delayed diagnoses and misdiagnoses. Both types of errors have the potential to severely injure patients by significantly delaying their treatment, and the study’s authors also stated that as many as half of the diagnostic errors they found had the potential to cause severe harm.

The study arrives on the heels of a 2010 report issued by the U.S. Health and Human Services’ Office of the Inspector General, which estimated that approximately one in seven Medicare patients experience at least one adverse event after being discharged from a hospital.

If a diagnostic error occurs because of negligence on the part of a physician or other medical staff member, it may be grounds for a medical malpractice lawsuit. In these cases, seeking legal representation right away is crucial, so speak with an experienced Baltimore medical malpractice attorney at LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton, P.A. as soon as possible.