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Types and causes of diagnostic errors

On Behalf of | Mar 31, 2021 | Medical Malpractice

Medical malpractice occurs when New Jersey doctors fail to provide an adequate level of patient care, often out of neglect and errors. It has devastating effects, and it is a top cause of preventable death in the united States. A common form of medical malpractice is diagnostic errors, which statistics show account for the largest percentage of malpractice cases.

Diagnostic error definition

Diagnostic errors occur when the doctor does not make a timely diagnosis of the patient’s condition or neglects to inform the patient. At least one in three patients will experience a diagnostic error, and these errors cause more than 12,000,000 patients harm each year around the country.

A patient may experience several types of diagnostic errors, but the most common are a missed diagnosis and a delayed diagnosis. A missed diagnosis means the doctor failed to diagnose a condition and told the patient that there was nothing wrong. A delayed diagnosis means a doctor diagnosed the issue but found it much later.

Causes of diagnostic errors

Stats show that almost 75% of medical malpractice claims from 2006 to 2015 related to cancer, vascular conditions and infections. Some symptoms of one condition often overlap with another, making a misdiagnosis easy. For example, a patient may get diagnosed with cancer that is actually a mass from an infection.

A majority of diagnostic errors happen in outpatient care, such as emergency rooms and clinics. Emergency rooms are often rushed places, and much of the staff has likely worked long shifts, which could cause them to miss symptoms. The same standards for regular doctors don’t apply to ERs, but they still have to provide the best possible care. Errors commonly occur during transport of patients between facilities, which may cause communication issues with information.