A shocking 2016 study from Johns Hopkins reported that medical mistakes were the third leading cause of death in the United States. Researchers estimated that there are at least 251,454 deaths due to medical errors annually in the United States, though that number could be much higher since nursing home facility and home deaths were not counted.
Over the course of the 25-year study, research indicated that between 80,000 to 160,000 patients suffered from preventable injuries or deaths relating to misdiagnosis. More than $38 billion dollars in settlements and verdicts were awarded to victims.
Diagnostic errors are still the leading cause of medical malpractice litigation. At the law firm of Schochor, Federico and Staton, P.A., we have unfortunately encountered a troublesome phenomenon: the misdiagnosis of treatable diseases and conditions.
Types of diseases that get misdiagnosed
Technological advances mean that many medical conditions these days are preventable. With prompt diagnosis and corrective treatment, doctors have the ability to catch diseases before they progress. A few examples of preventable diseases that could become fatal if misdiagnosed include:
- Pulmonary emboli. A pulmonary embolism is a blockage of an artery in the lungs that could occur after surgery due a patient’s immobility. Physicians should screen patients that have a higher risk of developing a blood clot and take measures to prevent a clot formation or advancement. An undiagnosed blood clot could become fatal.
- Colon cancer. If signs and symptoms are caught early, advanced colon cancer can be avoided. When a colonoscopy is properly performed in a timely manner, benign polyps can be removed. Without a thorough colonoscopy, however, those benign polyps could later develop into a fatal cancer.
- Hospital infections. The CDC estimates that 2 million patients suffer from hospital-acquired infections every year, and nearly 100,000 of them die. Many of these infections are preventable and caused by misdiagnosis and other medical errors. HAIs include urinary tract infections, pneumonia, and catheter-related infections, frequently arising from a healthcare provider failing to follow simple hygiene protocols.
- Cardiovascular disease. If patients present with even seemingly minor heart- and chest-related symptoms, doctors should immediately order tests to rule out an evolving cardiac problem. Preventative screenings for high cholesterol and high blood pressure could lead to the avoidance of serious cardiovascular disease before it becomes potentially fatal.
Misdiagnosis of other conditions, such as heart attack and other types of cancer, are scary and far too commonplace. If you are worried your doctor is not taking your symptoms and concerns seriously, go to another physician for a second opinion.
Take your health into your own hands with help from a Maryland or Washington D.C. malpractice lawyer
The medical malpractice attorneys at Schochor, Federico and Staton, P.A. are seasoned, award-winning legal professionals with the skill and legal savvy to obtain just results. If your loved one perished due to the misdiagnosis of a preventable disease, seek legal advice right away. Our firm can be reached at 410-234-1000, and we see clients in our Baltimore and Washington offices. You can also complete a contact form.