Diagnostic Errors Significant Cause of Medical Malpractice Claims

May 30th, 2013 by admin

Thirty-five percent of medical malpractice claim payouts result from diagnostic errors, according to a recent study from John Hopkins Medical Center. Researchers discovered that diagnostic errors accounted for more deaths and severe disabilities than any other error, including surgical mistakes and prescription drug overdoses.

Examining claims data from 1986 to 2010, researchers found errors in diagnoses caused 13,614 deaths and 11,544 serious disabilities, in addition to $38.8 billion in penalty payouts.

Errors include missed, wrong or delayed diagnoses; in this study, “failure to diagnose” was the most frequent error, accounting for 54 percent of claim payouts.

Cognitive biases causing flawed reasoning and system errors leading to inaccurate test results—and both coupled with negligence in some cases—increase the risk of error. Research is still being done to determine how to more accurately diagnose patients. In the meantime, physicians should keep an open line of communication regarding a diagnosis with each patient to reduce medical liability.

For additional resources on reducing medical malpractice exposure, contact Nexus Partners Insurance Solutions.