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Diagnostic errors cause most medical malpractice suits

These blogs are posted on behalf of Hof & Reid LLC, and do not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of the firm or its attorneys. The information presented in this blog is for informational purposes only and is not intended to be legal advice.

The American healthcare system is widely held as one of the most advanced and proficient in the world. We are fortunate to have access to highly trained medical professionals, state-of-the-art facilities, and cutting-edge technology. Despite these advantages, however, our nation still experiences a high number of medical malpractice claims, in Pennsylvania and elsewhere. One recently released study examined the basis for those suits, and found that diagnostic errors account for as many as 28.6 percent of malpractice payments made to patients.

The importance of receiving a proper diagnosis cannot be overstated. The initial evaluation and diagnostic process is the precursor to the treatment plan that will follow, and guides the series of decisions that are made from that point forward. An improper diagnosis can not only lead to a patient being treated for a condition that does not exist, it can also mean that the true medical issue goes untreated.

Medical treatment and procedures have risks, which is a reality that all patients and their families have to accept. However, when a patient is subjected to a procedure that is the result of an improper diagnosis, those risks are assumed needlessly. In some cases, patients suffer or even lose their lives, all based on a diagnostic error.

For Pennsylvania patients and families who have experienced negative repercussions following an improper diagnosis, one options of recourse is to file a medical malpractice suit. Doing so can lead to an award of damages that can help offset some of the negative repercussions of the error. Perhaps more importantly, taking legal action can result in changes in policies that can prevent others from experiencing similar misdiagnoses.

Source: The New York Times, "Why Doctors Are Sued," Nicholas Bakalar, April 29, 2013

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