Diagnostic errors are mistakes that can occur at many different points in the diagnostic process. These errors happen when health care providers misinterpret a test result, fail to order a needed test, or when the test results are wrong.
The amount of diagnostic errors reported has been increasing over time. A recent study found that around 10% of patients seen by emergency physicians had one or more serious diagnostic errors.
The consequences for these types of errors are potentially life-threatening, and it is important for physicians and other providers to remember them during every patient interaction.
Why Are Diagnostic Errors Increasing?
The number of diagnostic errors has been increasing over time. There are many reasons for this, some of which include inaccurate tests and inexperienced providers.
One reason for the increase in diagnostic errors is that newer, often more complicated tests are being used more frequently. In order to use these new tests, providers need to be trained to use them correctly.It’s not uncommon for providers to misinterpret the results or fail to order a needed test because they don’t have enough experience with the newer technologies.
Another reason diagnostic errors are becoming more common is that there are a lot of inexperienced healthcare providers who aren’t as knowledgeable about how to interpret medical tests as more experienced professionals.
These less-experienced providers may not know what questions to ask or what details matter when reviewing test results.
A related factor is increased patient workloads, which can lead providers to make mistakes in haste or just not take the necessary time needed for each patient interaction. The average emergency physician sees around 60 patients a day, which means they don’t have time to review all the information on every patient’s chart before moving on to the next one. This could lead them to misdiagnose something without realizing it if they don’t have time to read through everything carefully.
The Consequences of Diagnostic Errors
Diagnostic errors can occur at many different points in the diagnostic process. The most common type of diagnostic error is when providers misinterpret a test.
For example, a patient may come to the doctor with complaints of chest pain. If they are given a blood pressure reading that doesn’t seem elevated, this would likely be interpreted as an error because it is not a necessary test for evaluating chest pain.
Another type of diagnostic error is when providers fail to order necessary tests. For example, if a diabetic patient came in for an appointment and did not have their glucose levels checked, this would be considered an error because high or low glucose levels could indicate another problem that needs to be evaluated.
Lastly, when the results are incorrect, this would also be considered an error. For example, if someone’s results from testing positive for HIV were negative, but they actually tested positive for HIV, this would be considered a wrong result, and an error occurred.
How to Avoid Diagnostic Errors
If you find yourself in a situation where you suspect that a diagnostic error has occurred, the best thing to do is contact your physician. Ask them to perform an additional test within the same day or have another provider order the necessary tests for you.
This can help avoid serious issues down the line. You will also want to keep track of what led you to believe there was an error in the first place and take notes about your interactions with other providers involved.
Lastly, if you suspect that a diagnostic error has resulted in harm or injury to you or a loved one, then contact your attorney immediately. It is imperative that you have experienced legal representation if you suffered an injury due to medical malpractice.
Diagnostic errors might be a leading cause of medical malpractice, but that doesn’t mean you’re without options. The Doctor Lawyer Firm specializes in these very claims and will assist you in being made whole again if you are the victim of a diagnostic error or another type of medical malpractice.
We urge you to get in touch with us immediately if you were injured in any way. We will help build your case and negotiate on your behalf to get you the compensation you deserve. You don’t have to face this challenging time alone. Call the Doctor Lawyer Firm today and start your journey to financial and physical recovery.
Are You a Victim of a Diagnostic Error or Medical Malpractice?
Sowell and Chakour are Florida’s trusted medical malpractice lawyers. Their extensive experience in the medical and legal fields ensures you are getting comprehensive, compassionate legal representation. We work hard to get our clients the maximum compensation, so be sure to schedule a consultation with the Doctor Lawyer Firm to discuss your case. Call 1-833-MedMals or fill out our contact form to get started.
The information in this blog post is for reference only and not legal advice. As such, you should not decide whether to contact a lawyer based on the information in this blog post. Moreover, there is no lawyer-client relationship resulting from this blog post, nor should any such relationship be implied. If you need legal counsel, please consult a lawyer licensed to practice in your jurisdiction.