When we aren’t feeling well, we rely on the training and keen sense of our doctors and other medical health professionals to take charge of our care. We count on them to act with urgency, request the right tests and medications, and do all they can to ensure a return to good health.
Unfortunately, it is all too common for health professionals to operate under conditions of duress. They often work within strict time frames that don’t allow for sufficient patient contact. Work shifts that are too long, bureaucratic policies, malfunctioning equipment and other factors can all contribute to a missed or delayed diagnosis.
Multifaceted problems require multifaceted solutions
A study reported through the American College of Physicians reviewed 307 closed malpractice claims across four malpractice insurance companies in which a patient alleged a missed or delayed diagnosis. Of the 307 claims, 181 involved diagnostic errors resulting in harmed patients. Of those 181 claims, 106 involved serious harm and 55 resulted in the death of the patient.
The findings demonstrated multiple breakdowns in the diagnostic chain. The most significant problems include:
- Failure to order the correct test
- Failure to establish an appropriate follow-up treatment plan
- Failure to obtain sufficient health history or perform an adequate examination
- Failure to properly interpret test results
Most of these issues were the result of human error in judgment and failure to properly communicate among staff members. If you or a loved one have sustained significant harm or death due to a misdiagnosis or missed diagnosis, you may have sufficient grounds for a medical malpractice claim.