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Cancer, infections and vascular diseases are often misdiagnosed

As many as 80,000 people in Georgia and around the country die each year and up to 160,000 suffer serious harm because their doctors failed to accurately diagnose their medical conditions. This was one of the worrying conclusions that researchers from Johns Hopkins Medicine in Baltimore reached after studying more than 11,000 medical malpractice claims. In what they say is the first study of its kind, the research team sorted dozens of diagnostic codes into groups to identify the most common types of medical mistakes.

This approach revealed that almost 75% of the patients who died or suffered serious harm because of a misdiagnosis involving cancer, vascular disease or an infection. When the researchers delved deeper, they found that sepsis, stroke and lung cancer were the conditions most often misdiagnosed. Other conditions that doctors seem to have trouble diagnosing accurately include heart attacks, blood clots, pneumonia, meningitis, and skin, breast and prostate cancer.

The researchers discovered that most diagnostic mistakes are caused by errors in judgment and that cancer patients are usually misdiagnosed in outpatient settings. Vascular diseases and infections are usually misdiagnosed in emergency rooms. Steps the study suggests could improve diagnostic accuracy include encouraging communication between nurses and doctors, providing health care professionals with more comprehensive training and making more effective use of the latest diagnostic techniques and technology.

Experienced medical malpractice attorneys could seek compensation for patients who are harmed due to doctor errors by initiating litigation on their behalf. This kind of lawsuit may also be filed by the dependent family members of patients who died because of physician or hospital mistakes. Attorneys could seek damages to compensate medical malpractice victims for their hospital and doctor bills, reduced quality of life, pain and suffering, and lost income.

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