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Diagnostic Errors

Doctor Diagnostic ErrorDiagnostic Errors: Misdiagnosis, Delayed Diagnosis, & Failure to Diagnosis

Nearly half of all medical malpractice-related injuries are the direct result of negligence on the part of healthcare professionals in the emergency room of hospitals.  This type of negligence is commonly referred to as emergency room error.

According to researchers at Johns Hopkins University, diagnostic errors make up the vast majority of emergency room errors that occur in hospitals throughout the country.

Diagnostic errors occur when healthcare professionals such as doctors or nurses misdiagnose a patient’s condition, delay the diagnosis of a patient, or completely fail to diagnose a patient.  These diagnostic errors can compound a patient’s condition, making it much worse than it originally was, and can even be fatal to a patient.

While healthcare professionals working in a fast-paced environment, like an emergency room, will make mistakes, understandably so, they should be held accountable for errors that are the result of medical treatment below the acceptable standards of the medical community.

If you believe you were injured as a result of a diagnostic error in the emergency room, or otherwise, contact the lawyers at Abbott Law Group today to discuss your legal options.

Legal Liability for Diagnostic Errors

Healthcare professionals will make diagnostic errors while working in the emergency room, and, legally, they will not be held liable for every diagnostic error they make.

Three things must be proven in order to hold a healthcare professional legally liable for diagnostic errors.
  1. It must be shown that a doctor-patient relationship existed at the time of treatment.  A doctor-patient relationship exists when the patient hires the doctor and the doctor agrees to treat the patient.

2. It must be shown that the doctor did not act within the acceptable standards of the medical community when the diagnostic error took place. Another test for this prong is whether the healthcare professional acted as a reasonable healthcare professional would have in that situation.

3. It also must be shown that the healthcare professional’s diagnostic error caused actual injury to the patient.  Often times, this can be difficult to prove because when patients arrive at the emergency room they are already injured, so it must be shown that the diagnostic error compounded the injury.

Why and How Diagnostic Errors Occur

According to a Johns Hopkins University study, researchers estimate the number of patients suffering misdiagnosis-related, potentially preventable, injury or death annually in the United States ranges from 80,000 to 160,000 patients.  In addition, researches found that diagnostic errors result in disability or death approximately twice as often as other types of medical malpractice.

The majority of diagnostic errors were found to be missed diagnoses (failure to diagnose), rather than delayed or misdiagnosis.  Failure to diagnose, or missed diagnoses, often results in patients being sent home from the hospital without necessary treatment, which can certainly result in permanent injury or death.

Delayed diagnoses can mean losing precious time during which irreversible damage can occur.  Misdiagnoses frequently lead to the inappropriate treatment of patients, which often results in compounding injuries.

Many experts believe that these types of errors could be the result of underfunding emergency rooms, which often means that not enough staff is available to properly treat patients.

Call us today if you believe a diagnostic error lead to your injury

If you have experienced an injury as a result of a diagnostic error, you may be legally entitled to compensation for past and future medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and other damages.  The emergency room error lawyers at Abbott Law Group have over thirty years of experience in the areas of personal injury and medical malpractice.  Contact us today for a free case evaluation.