New Report Labels Diagnostic Errors as Top Patient Safety Concern

Diagnostic errors may be medical malpractice in some cases.

A recent report published by the ECRI Institute (formerly known as the Emergency Care Research Institute) shows that diagnostic errors are the main patient safety concern among health care providers in the US. Diagnostic errors, which are the most common type of medical mistake, affect an estimated one in 20 adults each year. The ECRI Institute noted that diagnostic errors lead to gaps in care, repeat testing, unnecessary procedures, and significant harm to patients. In addition, diagnostic errors may not be caught until after patients have been discharged.

Diagnostic errors are not only the most common medical mistake in the US, they are also the most common reason why medical malpractice lawsuits are filed. Coverys, a medical malpractice insurer, found that 33 percent of medical malpractice claims filed between 2013 and 2017 involved diagnostic errors. Roughly 36 percent of those claims involved patient deaths. Another 36 percent of the diagnostic errors occurred in outpatient settings (such as a doctor’s office).

What are the Possible Consequences of Diagnostic Errors?

There are multiple reasons why diagnostic errors can occur. Miscommunication, misinterpreting test results, or failing to order tests are all common causes of diagnostic errors.

Patients who are affected by a diagnostic error may not receive treatment. For instance, a diagnostic error could affect the outcome of a cancer diagnosis. These are cases where a patient could suffer severe harm or death if they do not receive the proper diagnosis and treatment. A delayed diagnosis of cancer could allow it to metastasize (spread) to other parts of the body, which would make the patient less likely to survive.

Harmed by a Diagnostic Error? Call Our Philadelphia Medical Malpractice Law Firm

Whether a medical mistake was caused by medical malpractice would depend on the circumstances. The Philadelphia medical malpractice lawyers at Eisenberg, Rothweiler, Winkler, Eisenberg & Jeck, P.C. have experience handling malpractice claims involving diagnostic errors. You can set up a free consultation by calling us at (866) 569-3400 or by using our confidential online case review form.

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