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Diagnostic Errors in Colorado

What Is a Diagnostic Error?

A diagnostic error is any medical diagnosis that is incorrect or delayed, or fails to diagnose a condition altogether. According to research from Johns Hopkins University, such errors account for about 29 percent of all medical malpractice claims. Not only are these types of medical errors common, they are also incredibly dangerous. Research indicates that more than 40 percent of diagnostic errors (based on total number of claims filed) resulted in patient death.

If you or someone you love was injured because of a diagnostic error, you can speak with a Colorado Springs personal injury lawyer at our firm. Clawson & Clawson, LLP offers award-winning service medical malpractice victims from offices in Colorado Springs and the surrounding areas, including Parker and Pueblo. Give us a call at (719) 602-5888 to learn how we can help you fight for compensation.

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What Causes Diagnostic Errors?

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has addressed the problem of errors in diagnosing patients and lists four potential reasons why a doctor might misdiagnose or fail to diagnose their patient.

  • Biased diagnosis: Sometimes this is referred to as the error of availability heuristic. This involves a doctor diagnosing a patient purely based on experience with similar past cases.
  • Relying too heavily on initial impressions: Some doctors can ignore subsequent evidence and lean too heavily on the results of preliminary testing.
  • "Framing effects" also describes a biased diagnosis. This error occurs when doctors rely too heavily on peripheral information.
  • Blindly relying on expert opinion: While opinion from other experts in the field can be helpful, relying too heavily on this when diagnosing a patient can result in error.

Most diagnostic errors can be prevented. While some medical conditions are difficult to diagnose, doctors still have a duty to their patient to follow regulated screening/diagnostic guidelines so that an accurate diagnosis can be made in a reasonable amount of time. This can help prevent a great deal of complications including birth injuries and brain injuries.

Statistics on diagnostic errors may not be entirely accurate or complete. This is due in large part because there is no standardized way for hospitals and healthcare practitioners to report these types of errors. Although data can be compiled based on the total number of medical malpractice lawsuits, this only provides a limited view into diagnostic errors because many patients/victims do not file lawsuits.

Most Commonly Misdiagnosed Medical Conditions

According to AARP, five conditions account for more than 30 percent of all failed diagnoses in intensive care units. Those are:

  • Heart attack
  • Pulmonary embolism
  • Pneumonia
  • Aspergillosis
  • Abdominal bleeding

Aside from serious medical events that can go without a proper diagnosis in the ICU, there are many other patients throughout the United States who suffer from diseases that have been incorrectly diagnosed. Without a correct diagnosis, these patients are going without the medication and treatment that could improve their conditions. Autoimmune diseases and infections such as Lyme's disease, Lupus and fibromyalgia are some common examples of frequently misdiagnosed diseases. Some conditions have symptoms that are very similar to others, and make them difficult to diagnose properly.

Work with a Seasoned Colorado Springs Lawyer

Since the 1980s, diagnostic errors have cost the medical industry billions of dollars due to patient injury and wrongful death lawsuits. If you were a victim of an incorrect diagnosis, you too may be able to file a claim for compensation against your healthcare provider or doctor. Our attorneys are prepared to handle all types of medical malpractice claims.

To learn more or to secure a free evaluation of your case, please contact our law firm online or call (719) 602-5888 today.

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