Are Doctors Taking Extra Caution to Avoid Misdiagnosis Deaths?

Posted on February 09, 2015 by Shapiro Law Group


Researchers from Northwestern University in Chicago have analyzed the responses of over 1,000 neurosurgeons to a survey on defensive medicine. Defensive medicine is the practice of ordering imaging and laboratory tests to avoid potential malpractice lawsuits. Doctors order extra medications and procedures to make sure they do not miss anything that may lead to a wrongful death and medical malpractice lawsuit.

According to the study, the practice of ordering extra tests to avoid lawsuits, not for the benefit of the patient, was more likely to happen in states with frequent medical malpractice litigation.

Misdiagnosis Leads to a Preventable Death

Misdiagnosis is a form of medical malpractice that kills thousands of Americans every year. Early last year, a California man with myocarditis, a virus that infects and inflames heart muscles, died after his ailment was misdiagnosed as a lung infection. In response to their loss, the family of the man sued St. Elizabeth’s Medical Center for $4.8 million.

Attorneys representing the family are claiming that doctors would have found the heart defect if they had ordered an electrocardiogram. After a five-day trial, a jury found the doctor was negligent in his care and treatment of the deceased man, and the family was awarded $4.8 million.

How Widespread Are Misdiagnosis Deaths?

Cases of misdiagnosis are commonplace, and there is a lot of pressure on hospitals and doctors to give an acceptable standard of care. Defensive medicine is a response to the thousands of people who die every year due to misdiagnosis.

In 1998, the Institute of Medicine found that over 98,000 people die every year because of mistakes in hospitals. In 2010, 180,000 patients died from medical errors.

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