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Medical errors more common than previously thought

Wisconsin individuals who have visited the doctor's office or emergency room may be interested to know that up to 20 percent of cases are misdiagnosed. These incidences of medical malpractice far exceed the number of drug and surgery errors but receive considerably less attention.

A 2009 report conducted by the federal Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality found that 28 percent of 583 misdiagnosed cases that were anonymously reported resulted in death or permanent disability. A study published in the BMJ Quality and Safety journal in 2012 that investigated medical errors in intensive care units estimated that approximately 40,500 deaths result from these errors, the same number of deaths that result due to breast cancer.

Despite the prevalence of these cases and their impact, they have largely been ignored. It is reported that many of these diagnostic errors result from a flawed way of thinking coupled with negligence on the part of the medical professionals, not because the patient's medical issue is rare or exotic.

Confounding the issue, doctors often do not know that they've misdiagnosed a patient's illness. Many patients often opt to visit a new doctor, and a report of the malpractice never makes it back to the original doctor who made the diagnostic error. Further, the vast majority of these cases never result in legal action. At the very base of the issue, doctors also often believe that they are not at fault and that any complications result from an error made by another physician.

In Wisconsin, an attorney experienced in personal injury may be able to aid their client in preparing their case for medical malpractice. The legal team might investigate each case by best utilizing their tools and experience to provide the best service possible.

Source: The Record, "Misdiagnosis more common than drug errors or wrong-site surgery", Sandra G. Boodman, June 06, 2013

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