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avoidable medical errors, Chicago medical malpractice lawyersWhen people get sick, they visit their doctor to get better. When they are critically ill, they go to a hospital for treatment. But are doctors actually doing more harm than good? Evidence from the prestigious Journal of Patient Safety would certainly suggest as much. Published nearly two decades after the Institute of Medicine’s (IOM) concerning report, To Err is Human, this new study indicates that people are not just dying by the very hands that are supposed to heal them; they are dying in significantly higher numbers than previously thought.

Preventable Deaths Now Third Leading Cause of Death

Using medical studies that were published between 2008 and 2011, researchers with Patient Safety America examined the occurrence of five commonly made medical mistakes: diagnostic errors, errors of commission, errors of context, errors of omission, and errors of communication. Overall, these mistakes caused as many as 440,000 deaths each and every year. That makes it the third leading cause of death in America, placing it beneath only heart disease and cancer.

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commonly misdiagnosed conditions, Chicago medical malpractice lawyerAccording to the Institute of Medicine (IOM), approximately one in 20 adults seeking outpatient care will receive delayed, wrong, or missed diagnosis each year. It accounts for about five percent of all patients seen annually. Though not a large number overall, over time, those numbers begin to add up. In fact, the IOM estimates that the majority of Americans will eventually experience a diagnostic error at some point in their lives. This small percentage also happens to account for 10 percent of all patient deaths.

The real problem is not necessarily that doctors misdiagnose (although this is certainly an issue); it is that, once a diagnosis is made, the doctor stops looking for one. This leads to improper treatment that, in some cases, may contraindicate with the treatment needed for the actual condition. It also leaves the actual condition untreated and, over time, that can become lethal. This can be especially true when looking at the five most commonly misdiagnosed conditions.

Heart Attacks

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diagnostic errors, Chicago medical malpractice attorneyProper treatment for a medical condition hinges on a correct diagnosis, but the wrong diagnosis can be a death sentence. Valuable treatment time is wasted. Conditions may worsen. And, in some cases, the wrong treatment can be dangerous. Unfortunately, the misdiagnosis of medical conditions happens all too often—a lot more frequently than most people realize.

Diagnostic Error Statistics

According to the study from the Institute of Medicine (IOM), diagnostic errors (inaccurate or delayed diagnoses) touch five percent of all Americans seeking outpatient care each year. Postmortem examinations reveal that those errors contribute to approximately 10 percent of all patient deaths, and a review of patient medical records suggests that such errors could be responsible for up to 17 percent of all adverse events in hospitals. However, what is most concerning about all of this is that, for the most part, diagnostic errors have not gone largely discussed and are highly underresearched.

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