Diagnostic errors are one of the biggest causes of injuries to patients.
They also very frequently lead to medical malpractice claims in which a patient, or their family, legally pursues just compensation for their losses.
Diagnostic errors include cases where a doctor actually tells a patient that they have one disease or condition when in fact they have another, and often more serious, illness.
However, it is also an error when a doctor never figures out what is causing a patient’s symptoms when they have the information to do so.
On a related point, a diagnosis that takes longer than it should and thus delays critical treatment is also a diagnostic error.
What causes diagnostic errors?
There are many reasons for diagnostic errors.
Sometimes, doctors simply make mistakes. While this may be understandable, it cannot be excused. Doctors get paid big money for their professional judgment.
When their bad judgment leads to bad outcomes for the patients who trusted them, the doctors should pay for the damage.
In other cases, a miscommunication or lack of communication during what is often a long and complicated process involving many professionals can cause a diagnostic error.
Again, it is the responsibility of medical professionals to communicate important information promptly and accurately.
The consequences of diagnostic errors are serious and widespread
An organization dedicated to reducing diagnostic errors reported that between 40,000 to 80,000 people across the country die every year because of a diagnostic error.
Millions of others suffer significant injuries after a bad diagnosis. In fact, diagnostic errors are the most common reason for medical malpractice claims.
They also typically cause the most significant injuries to patients and, perhaps because of this, lead to the largest payouts in verdicts and settlements.
Victims of diagnostic errors or their families have legal options. They may be able to recover compensation for additional bills as well as for lost income and other non-economic damages.