Emergency Misdiagnosis Is Common Reason For Malpractice Lawsuits

Carl Saiontz

By Carl Saiontz
Posted July 21, 2015


More than half of all emergency medical malpractice lawsuits are due to misdiagnosis, according to new research. 

The Doctors Company, a physician-owned medical malpractice insurer, recently released the findings of a study that indicates more than half of all medical malpractice lawsuits against emergency physicians involve:

  • Failure to Properly Diagnose Medical Problems,
  • Delays in Medical Diagnosis, or
  • Misdiagnosis of Conditions

The study looked at data on 332 emergency medical claims from 2007 to 2013, and said that while 57% of malpractice lawsuits against emergency specialists were related to various diagnostic-related issues, most of those were due to inadequate patient assessment, which made up 52% of the overall claims.

Patient assessment issues included a failure to establish a differential diagnosis, order the right tests and to address abnormal findings or use available clinical information. It also included prematurely discharging patients.

According to the findings, the most often misdiagnosed conditions in emergency treatment include:

  • Acute Cerebral Vascular Accidents
  • Heart Attacks, and
  • Spinal Epidural Abcesses

In addition to medical misdiagnosis, the researchers found that improper management of treatment was responsible for 13% of malpractice claims, improper performance of a treatment or procedure accounted for 5% of claims, and a failure to order medication was responsible for 3% of claims.

Many of these emergency room malpractice lawsuits may have been avoided with the exercise of the appropriate standards of medical care, through differential diagnosis for each patient, as well as documenting whether an alternative diagnosis was considered and ruled out.

The study’s findings highlight how other factors are often involved in patient injury from emergency misdiagnosis, communication among providers, failure to review medical records, and communications between patients, families and providers, as well as staffing problems and insufficient documentation.

Emergency Physician Misdiagnosis Lawyers

The emergency room malpractice lawyers at Saiontz & Kirk, P.A. review potential claims for individuals nationwide who may have suffered a severe or fatal injury as a result of a misdiagnosis or other failure to exercise the appropriate standard of medical care. All cases are reviewed and investigated under a contingency fee agreement, which means that there are no out of pocket expenses to hire a lawyer and we only receive attorneys fees or expenses if a recovery is obtained.

To review whether an emergency medical treatment injury may have been avoided, request a free consultation and malpractice lawsuit evaluation.

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