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Wrong diagnosis can be preamble to medical malpractice

When a patient in Florida faces a medical malpractice situation, there is a good chance that the problems started at the diagnostic level. According to a report published in March 2018 by a malpractice insurance provider, a third of the medical wrongdoing claims brought by patients between 2013 and 2017 were related to misdiagnosis and delayed diagnosis cases.

In the medical malpractice field, there are three main categories of actus reus that could merit claims: incorrect diagnosis, procedural errors and improper medical management. In the report, procedural errors were mentioned in 24 percent of claims while medical mismanagement was the reason in 14 percent of claims. What this study clearly shows is that poor treatment decisions are often influenced by a wrong diagnosis.

Another interesting aspect of the study involves clinical settings. Medical malpractice claims are being filed with nearly the same frequency whether the incident occurred in a hospital or at an outpatient clinic. In the past, most claims originated involved treatment received at the inpatient level; however, current trends in health care indicate a greater push towards outpatient services.

When taking a closer look at the bad praxis claims triggered by wrong diagnoses, it becomes clear that laboratory testing plays a major part in how the claims will progress through mediation, arbitration or litigation. More than half of incorrect diagnoses involve errors related to lab results. Claims filed directly against radiology practices made up 14 percent of the cases reviewed in the study.

When patients consult law firms about medical malpractice situations, the diagnostic and laboratory processes may become a strong focus of evaluation and discovery. When evidence of misdiagnosis or delayed diagnosis is present, the outcome of the malpractice claim may shift favorably to the plaintiff.

Source: Modern Healthcare, “Diagnostic errors are largest contributor to medical malpractice claims“, Maria Castellucci , 03/13/2018

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