Incidents of misdiagnosis rampant in U.S. health care system

In the last 20 years, the U.S. health care system has vastly changed. Today, many hospitals encourage a culture in which doctors are pressured to see as many patients as possible in a day and rewarded accordingly. As a result, doctors often rush through exams and patients may fail to express concerns and receive adequate answers.

Last spring, a report was released by Johns Hopkins which detailed how misdiagnosis is the most commonly cited medical error in successful medical malpractice lawsuits. Many believe part of the reason for this is related to the fact that doctors are often rushed and are too quick to zero in on a diagnosis.

In recent years, there have been numerous news reports of incidences in which doctors failed to properly diagnose patients’ illnesses or diseases. One case dealt with a six-year-old girl whose blood sugar levels were severely elevated when she arrived at the hospital. Despite the clear signs and high probability that the girl was suffering the ill effects of type 1 diabetes and required insulin, her doctor diagnosed her with type 2 diabetes. Tragically, the little girl died as a result of this misdiagnosis.

In an attempt to prevent a misdiagnosis, some hospitals now require doctors to utilize programs that list other possible diagnoses. Most hospitals, however, fail to implement these types of diagnostic programs and yet continue to promote a culture in which doctors are encouraged to see as many patients as possible in a day.

Chicago area residents who have been adversely impacted by a misdiagnosis would be wise to discuss their case with an attorney. A legal professional who handles medical malpractice matters can help determine whether taking legal action is an appropriate means to recovering damages.

Source: The Village Voice, “Type Miscast: Misdiagnosis Is Most Common Cause of Medical Malpractice Payouts,” Albert Samaha, Oct. 4, 2013

Failure to Diagnose


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