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Study of medical malpractice claims establishes common errors

We continue to get a better understanding of the medical errors claimed against doctors in malpractice cases. A study recently completed looked at details on medical malpractice claims, including in New York, and revealed that the single biggest allegation of medical error is the failure to diagnose a disease, such as cancer or heart disease. The most frequently missed diagnoses according to the claims were cancer, heart attacks in adults, and meningitis in children.

The second most common errors claimed were medication errors, such as prescription-related errors or adverse drug reactions. It should be emphasized, however, that this statistic has nothing to do with actual errors committed. About two-thirds of claims evaluated in the United States aren't accepted.

In addition, most patients who experience medical errors do not file medical malpractice claims, according to researchers. The real value in studying these statistics comes in helping doctors to be more aware of certain kinds of prevalent medical malpractice errors and to protect against them for the future. Heart attacks in women show the value of these studies. A certain kind of atypical heart attack was occurring in women, where they have gastrointestinal problems as the main symptoms, in distinction to the classic signs of chest or arm pain, researchers said.

Once the recurrence of claims on this issue became apparent, it was evident that the information on such atypical attacks could be relayed to other doctors. Thus, the process of analyzing malpractice claims can contribute to improving the quality of medical services. The information may also help identify areas where technological tools may help improve services and pick up on prescribing errors.

A worthy medical malpractice claim in New York and elsewhere is identified only after a highly specialized legal and medical inquiry that first studies the medical procedures in detail and compares them with recognized standards of practice. Medical causation is a complex dynamic that must exist in order for a claim to be viable. If you face the prospect of a medical malpractice issue in your life, the best way to evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of your claim and find out its potential is to consult with an experienced medical malpractice practitioner.

Source: Fox News, "Failure to diagnose is top reason for suing doctors," Rachael Rettner, July 19, 2013

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