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The heavy costs of medical misdiagnosis

There are many causes of medical malpractice from hospital negligence and administrative errors to doctor negligence. According to a recent study conducted at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, however, the leading cause of medical malpractice claims associated with serious injuries or death are diagnostic errors. Pennsylvania residents who have suffered serious complications due to the misdiagnosis of their medical conditions may find the following blog interesting.

According to the Johns Hopkins study, the misdiagnosis of medical conditions is not only the most common medical mistake, but also the most costly. Researchers found that of $38.8 billion in medical malpractice claims paid out between 1986 and 2010, 35 percent of those claims were attributable to diagnostic errors. Furthermore, researchers found that nearly 160,000 patients may be permanently injured or may die every year due to diagnostic-related errors.

While there are many reasons that diagnostic errors can be dangerous, the most common reason that doctors are found negligent is for failing to treat a condition that could have been prevented if the condition had been properly diagnosed. This is particularly true with diseases that can become increasingly worse over time, such as cancer. With such diseases, an early diagnosis is often essential to a successful recovery. In such cases, failure to diagnose can be a death sentence.

While diagnostic-related errors are generally actionable in a court of law, the plaintiff must show that the doctor was negligent. To show that a doctor's diagnostic error was negligent, the plaintiff must prove that a reasonably cautious doctor acting under the same or similar conditions could have come to the same conclusion.

WFMJ, "Misdiagnosis leading cause of U.S. malpractice payouts," Denise Mann, April 23, 2013

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