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Medical Misdiagnosis Research

Medical misdiagnosis can happen for a variety of reasons. Research from Johns Hopkins suggests more than 795,000 patients in the United States each year die or become permanently disabled as a result of medical misdiagnosis.

To break it down, the study found 371,000 patients die and 424,000 suffer a permanent disability after being diagnosed with the wrong condition. The study also found misdiagnosis happens in almost any healthcare setting – this isn’t just at the family doctor or the ER.

medical misdiagnosis research

Reasons For Medical Misdiagnosis

A medical misdiagnosis can happen for any number of reasons.

  • miscommunication between medical providers
  • lab error
  • inexperience
  • overconfidence
  • diagnostic error

It is common for medical professionals to misdiagnose when symptoms match a different condition. The study found heart attacks are rarely mistaken for anything else. Only 1.5% of patients who suffered a heart attack are misdiagnosed. But, at the higher end of the spectrum, over 60% of spinal abscesses receive an incorrect diagnosis. Strokes were misdiagnosed about 17% of the time.

Most Common Misdiagnosis

5 medical issues account for 40% of misdiagnoses that lead to disability and death. The 5 most common misdiagnosed medical issues:

  • stroke
  • sepsis
  • pneumonia
  • blood clots
  • lung cancer

Reducing these misdiagnosis cases by 50% would help 150,000 patients each year. With better training and diagnostic standards, the research is hopeful that medical professionals can get better at properly diagnosing these medical issues. 

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Is Misdiagnosis Malpractice?

Is every misdiagnosis grounds for a medical malpractice lawsuit? The short answer is no. Medical malpractice claims must meet specific criteria in the state of Pennsylvania.

Yet, there are situations when a misdiagnosis IS medical malpractice. This happens when a doctor in the same field would have made a correct diagnosis AND there is a direct injury resulting from the misdiagnosis. This is something we often see in cancer or stroke misdiagnosis cases. Typically, the misdiagnosis causes a delay in treatment that leads to irreparable harm or death. Learn more in this example of breast cancer misdiagnosis.

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Hurdles To Proving Medical Malpractice

Misdiagnosis alone is not proof of medical malpractice in Pennsylvania. A patient must be able to prove their care wasn’t according to standards and it resulted in physical harm. Even if a patient is able to prove the care deviated from medical standards and resulted in an injury, there are often additional hurdles.

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When To Contact A Medical Malpractice Attorney

Thank you for taking the time to read our article about this medical misdiagnosis research. If you have suffered as a result of medical misdiagnosis, talk to an experienced attorney for advice.

A medical malpractice attorney at Kane & Silverman can help you understand how the law applies to your situation. Contact us for a free medical malpractice consultation.