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Insurer estimates misdiagnosis affects at least 10% of patients

According to estimates from a medical malpractice insurer, between 10 and 20 percent of patients do not receive an accurate diagnosis during doctor visits. When people in Florida seek medical care, medical errors are the most likely to occur during the diagnostic phase. The insurer studied over 10,000 medical professional liability claims over a five-year period and concluded that diagnostic errors were the root cause of 33 percent of them.

The study blamed poor clinical decisions for 53 percent of malpractice claims. Over one-third of these mistakes took place in outpatient settings. Medical tests represented another major source of liability claims because tests were involved in half of these claims. Testing problems emerged when doctors failed to order tests or made mistakes when performing tests. Misinterpretation of test results accounted for some misdiagnoses. Errors also arose during the receipt and transmission of test samples and results.

The researchers suggested that clinicians could improve performance by creating a better tracking system for test samples. Developing a way for patients to view and study results could also alleviate errors.

Although patients should monitor medical care, they are typically dependent on medical providers to make sound decisions and maintain high standards. When a failure to diagnose a problem causes a person to miss treatment opportunities, medical negligence might have occurred. A consultation with an attorney familiar with medical malpractice might inform a person about the possibility of pursuing damages. An attorney's investigation may uncover evidence that a doctor or hospital did not meet accepted standards of care. After preparing a lawsuit, an attorney might seek a pretrial settlement to pay for medical expenses, pain and suffering or lost income. With legal advice, a person could make an informed decision between accepting a settlement offer or taking the case to trial.

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