A recent report regarding medical malpractice in the U.S. estimated that diagnostic errors by physicians and hospitals resulted in “serious permanent damage” or “immediate or inevitable death” in up to 4 million Americans annually. (Newman-Toker, 2019, p. 227). These errors include:
- Failure of physicians to properly diagnose medical conditions
- Miscommunication between medical personnel and between physicians and patients; and
- Failure of physicians, nurses and hospital technicians to accurately communicate test results.
The three most common conditions that physicians and hospitals misdiagnose are:
- Vascular events [i.e., strokes, brain bleeding, internal bleeding and hemorrhage];
- Infections; and
These conditions are known as the “Big Three” and are responsible for nearly 75% of serious misdiagnosis-related harms in the United States. (Newman-Toker, 2019, p. 238).
Knowing the severity of the problem of misdiagnosis and medical malpractice in the United States, here are some tips that can help you protect yourself when seeking medical care:
Ask your doctor to explain in detail the treatment plan you will follow at home.
- If you are having surgery, make sure that you, your primary care doctor, and your surgeon all agree on exactly what will be done.
- Speak up if you have questions or concerns – you have a right to question anyone who is involved with your care.
- If you have a medical test, do not assume that no news is good news – ask how and when you will get the results, and demand to see the final results when they are available.
If you or a family member have been a victim of misdiagnosis or medical malpractice and need help or have questions, call us at 312.553.4900.
Newman-Toker, David E., et al. “Serious Misdiagnosis-Related Harms in Malpractice Claims:The ‘Big Three' – Vascular Events, Infections, and Cancers.” Diagnosis, vol. 6, no. 3, 2019, pp. 227 – 240., doi:10.1515/dx-2019-0019.