Florida medical malpractice lawyer, Guy S. DiMartino, DC, JD discusses the failure to diagnose medical malpractice case and the recent article published in JAMA Internal Medicine.
Medical malpractice lawyers know that only a small number of patients who are victims of medical malpractice even consult a lawyer to see if they have a medical malpractice claim. Authors at Johns Hopkins University recently published an article in JAMA Internal Medicine which attempts to measure diagnostic errors in primary care.
The authors point out the diagnostic errors (failing to timely diagnose a medical condition) is a source of preventable harm. That's right – most failure to diagnose situations are preventable. Additionally, only about 1% of bad outcomes because of medical malpractice result in a claim. This is true in spite of the all the rhetoric in the press.
The study pointed out some important facts regarding the failure to diagnose medical malpractice case:
- Most diagnostic errors are linked to clear defects in bedside history. So the first thing we look at is whether the doctor, nurse or other healthcare provider took a complete and detailed history. How many times have you been to a doctor and when you started explaining what is wrong – they cut you off and jump to a conclusion?
- Defects in the physical examination – the next thing that has to be looked at is whether the doctor did an appropriate physical exam. If the doctor didn't listen to the patient and take a good history the physical exam will be lacking. How many times have you been in an exam and you want the doctor to feel where it hurts or where you have that lump – and they refuse to touch the area or never quite get to the area?
- Defects in test ordering – again this goes back to taking proper history. In medical school doctors learn that 85% of the diagnosis should be made through the history and the physical exam and tests are to rule in or out the conditions in the differential.
- Providers failed to document a differential diagnosis at the initial visit in more than 80% of misdiagnosis cases.
The study just supports the fact that the key to good and appropriate medical practice is communication. When communication fails patients are injured.
If you have any questions about a potential failure to diagnose medical malpractice case, you can call me directly on my cell at (352) 267-9168 or fill out the internet consultation form on the right.