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Chicago medical malpractice lawyersWhen it comes to strokes, research indicates that the outcome of a patient can improve by as much as 80 percent if they are given prompt and early treatment. Unfortunately, for anywhere between 15,000 and 165,000 Americans per year, such treatment is not received because they are misdiagnosed - often with a condition that is benign in nature. Women, minorities, and younger patients may be at an especially high risk for this potentially deadly medical mistake.

Risk of Misdiagnosis Higher for Certain Stroke Sufferers

Conducted by Johns Hopkins University, one study found that emergency room doctors are as much as 30 percent more likely to overlook the symptoms of a stroke in women and minorities. That risk jumps even higher for patients under the age of 45 who, though less likely to suffer from stroke, are far from immune (about 34 percent of strokes occur in those under age 65).

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Illinois medical malpractice attorneysMost studies on medical malpractice have been conducted on the treatment received at hospitals, but Americans are most often treated by their primary care doctors. How does the care that they receive here measure up? According to one study, not so great. In fact, as many as 16 percent of all malpractice claims in 2013 were made against general practitioners. The following information highlights what every American should know about their risk of a medical error with their PCP.

Missed Diagnoses and Your PCP

In an analysis of 34 different studies on medical malpractice claims, researchers at Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland Medical School and Trinity College Dublin found that missed diagnoses of a serious (and often fatal) condition accounted for 26 to 63 percent of all malpractice claims against primary care providers. Heart attack, meningitis, and cancer were the most commonly missed conditions, but researchers also found cases in which primary care providers has missed fractures, ectopic pregnancies, and appendicitis in their patients. The most common consequence of diagnostic error was patient death (between 15 percent and 48 percent of all claims).

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missed diagnoses in Chicago, Illinois medical malpractice attorneyThere have been several studies published in recent years that shine light on aspects of health care that are considered increasingly unsafe. In particular, there is concern about the level of care performed by medical providers on the weekend compared to on a weekday.

A study published in the Journal of Pediatric Surgery concluded that pediatric surgical patients who underwent common urgent operations during the weekend faced a higher risk of mortality, blood transfusion, and surgical complications.  Another Johns Hopkins Medicine study revealed the same type of “weekend effect” for head trauma victims. Its review of more than 38,000 patient records reflected a higher mortality rate in older adult patients who sustain head trauma injuries over a weekend than those hospitalized on a weekday.

These findings have been previously documented in cases of heart attack and stroke, but now have been linked to head trauma care as well. Researchers surmise that there is not a medical explanation for these statistics, but rather a hospital operational insufficiency due to reduced staffing and lack of accessibility to specialists during the weekend.

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