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Diagnostic errors are significant cause of medical malpractice

Most patients who seek medical care in Massachusetts place a great deal of faith in their health care providers. Specifically, they trust that their medical issues will be adequately diagnosed and treated. Unfortunately, many people are victims of medical malpractice every year. In fact, a recent study claims that a majority of people will experience some form of diagnostic error in their lifetime.

The study, released by the Institute of Medicine, defines a diagnostic error as the failure to provide an accurate explanation of a patient's ailments in a timely manner and/or the failure to adequately explain the diagnosis to the patient. Unfortunately, the IOM estimates that approximately 5 percent of adults seeking outpatient care experience such an error. Further, such errors account for approximately 10 percent of patient fatalities and 17 percent of adverse events in hospitals.

The report claims that such errors occur due to a variety of reasons, including limited transparency in the diagnostic process and the failure to collaborate and communicate among health care professionals. Perhaps even more concerning, the IOM claims that such errors will only increase if no action is taken to revise the process. Such a revision requires the commitment of various medical care personnel.

The recently released report follows a 1999 IOM report written claiming that approximately 98,000 people die in this country every year as a result of medical errors that could be prevented. Unfortunately, medical malpractice affects the lives of many in Massachusetts -- leaving them grieving if it resulted in the loss of loved one. For some, the financial consequences of such negligence are just as difficult to cope with as families struggle with medical bills, funeral expenses and loss of wages and companionship. Fortunately, these victims have legal options available. If it can be proved that the accepted standard of care was not met, a civil court could order an award of damages that could help them survive as they deal with their loss.

Source: healthleadersmedia.com, "5% of Patients Experience Diagnostic Error, Says IOM", John Commins, Sept. 22, 2015

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