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One-third of misdiagnoses lead to death or severe disability

Diagnostic errors in a primary care setting affect some 12 million Americans every year. San Antonio residents should know that misdiagnoses, in particular, can have serious consequences. Roughly 40,000 to 80,000 Americans every year die as a result of such mistakes. Inaccurate diagnoses are the leading factor in malpractice claims that involve death or a serious disability.

This was the conclusion of a study conducted by the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. Researchers analyzed over 55,000 diagnosis-related malpractice claims that resulted in death or serious injuries. Of these, 74.1% involved one of three conditions that researchers dubbed "The Big Three." They are cancer (37.8%), vascular events (22.8%) and infection (13.5%). Lung cancer, stroke and sepsis were the most frequently misdiagnosed conditions in each of these categories.

Researchers found that 71.2% of diagnostic errors arose in outpatient clinics, emergency departments and other ambulatory settings. High-severity diagnostic errors involving vascular events and infection were most common in EDs and inpatient settings whereas cancer cases were more widespread in non-ED settings.

More than 85% of diagnostic errors were due to problems in clinical judgment, such as the failure to take an adequate medical history for patients. General care physicians were responsible in over 50% of the cases, followed by medical specialists, general surgeons and providers of diagnostic services.

Someone who believes they were the victim of medical negligence may want to see an attorney. Filing a medical malpractice claim can be a complicated process that requires the assistance of investigators and medical professionals. The lawyer may be able to provide these other third parties, though. Legal counsel may even handle all negotiations. A malpractice claim could cover victims for medical costs, the wages they lost during their physical recovery and more.

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