Harmful Diagnostic Errors Made by Doctors
When a patient is given an incorrect diagnosis, he or she may suffer serious consequences from taking the wrong medication or from not receiving the proper care. When this occurs, there is the potential for serious harm. A recent study published online in Journal of the American Medical Association’s Internal Medicine issue reviewed how and why primary care physicians make diagnostic errors. According to their study, almost 80 percent of diagnostic errors resulted from breakdowns in the patient-practitioner clinical encounter.
Breakdowns during the clinical encounter of the primary care physicians studied the most common occurrence, includes:
- taking down a patient’s history (56.3 percent) or during the physical examination (47.4 percent);
- ordering further diagnostic tests (57.4 percent);
- a result of failing to review previous documentation (15.3 percent); and
- processing breakdowns also occurred during the referral process, while tracking diagnostic information, and interpreting diagnostic tests.
The study examined 190 instances of diagnostic errors that were detected in primary care visits between October 1, 2006 and September 30, 2007. Of those cases, the missed diagnoses included cases of: pneumonia, decompensated congestive heart failure, acute renal failure, cancer, and urinary tract infections. These are all potentially serious conditions if not diagnosed quickly and treated properly.
A failure to diagnose can result in improper treatment, medication errors, and serious complications. When this occurs, an extensive evaluation will be needed to determine where mistakes were made and how the incident could have been prevented. The skilled lawyers at The Law Offices of Wayne Grant, P.C., has a long history of successfully handling complex medical and hospital negligence cases in Georgia. Please contact us at (404) 995-3955 for a no-cost consultation and comprehensive case assessment.
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