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The potential consequences of medical errors

Two decades ago, a report claimed that roughly 98,000 people in Pennsylvania and throughout the country die annually because of medical errors. A more recent study has found that the true death toll may be more than twice as high. That recent study also found that about 5% of patients in the United States are put in harm's way unnecessarily. Of those patients, about 12% will acquire a permanent disability or die because of a preventable mistake.

For patients, misdiagnosis can be deadly

People in Pennsylvania who seek out medical care often worry that they won't be taken seriously when they go to the doctor. They are concerned that something seriously wrong may be missed due to a physician's dismissiveness, lack of knowledge or negligence. They may have good reason for concern as some estimates say that up to 80,000 people lose their lives in American hospitals each year as a result of mistaken diagnoses. People who are misdiagnosed do not receive treatment for their conditions, allowing their illness to worsen and progress. Some may receive treatments for other illnesses that they do not have, which can be harmful in some cases.

Heart attack and stroke misdiagnosis in women

Women in Pennsylvania who have a heart attack may experience symptoms that are not thought of as typical like nausea, back pain or vomiting. When this happens, women are more likely to be misdiagnosed and receive delayed care for the myocardial infarction. According to a study by the American Heart Association, nearly 62 percent of women experience symptoms other than chest pain when they are having a heart attack.

Preventable medical errors still prevalent

A statement released by the federal Department of Health and Human Services indicates that preventable medical errors cause 200,000 or more deaths every year in Pennsylvania and across the country. The definition of a medical error has improved in recent years and has become more expansive. Generally speaking, medical errors can be divided into two categories.

Lyme disease is often misdiagnosed

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, almost 300,000 Americans, including those living in Pennsylvania, contract Lyme disease each year. However, the tick-borne disease is notoriously hard to detect, meaning that many people can have it without knowing it.

Medical malpractice cases involving a misdiagnosis

A study conducted by researchers from the Mayo Clinic reveals that about 12 million people in Pennsylvania and around the country are misdiagnosed by their primary care physicians each year. Misdiagnosed patients do not receive the care they need and may suffer additional harm caused by the side effects of unnecessary treatment. However, proving that a doctor acted negligently can be challenging for misdiagnosed patients who choose to pursue legal remedies.

Diagnostic errors a major element in malpractice claims

On July 11, the journal Diagnosis published a study saying that 34% of medical malpractice claims involving either serious injuries or death are related to a diagnostic error. Out of 55,377 closed malpractice claims that were filed from 2006 to 2015, 11,592 cited such errors. Pennsylvania residents should know that the three conditions most liable to a misdiagnosis or delayed diagnosis were cancer, vascular events and infection.

Medical malpractice: American patients at risk

In Pennsylvania and across the United States, 33% of medical malpractice lawsuits related to permanent disabilities or death is due to a doctor's misdiagnosis or failure to diagnose. A recent Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine study showed that misdiagnosis is the main cause of grave mistakes. Many Americans die in hospitals every year because of misdiagnosis. Plus, approximately 12 million American patients experience diagnostic mistakes.

The challenge of proving a malpractice claim

When Pennsylvania patients experience increased suffering and a worsened health condition after a medical mistake, they may be outraged at the results. However, they may face challenges when they aim to seek compensation for a medical provider that used inaccurate or mistaken treatment methods. Under medical malpractice law, patients must show that the physician or health care professional responsible deviated from the accepted standard of care that he or she had a responsibility to follow. They must also show that this deviation caused the harm from which they then suffered.

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