Missed diagnoses the most common cause of malpractice claims

New Jersey residents may be interested in the findings of an extensive study performed by the British Medical Journal, or BMJ, which were published on July 18. Researchers analyzed the over 7,150 medical journals dealing with medical malpractice from the United States, Great Britain, Canada, Australia and France. The most common medical mistakes found were missed or incorrect diagnoses and drug errors.

The conditions that led to the most missed diagnoses were cancer and heart attacks, and the most common result of these errors was the death of the patient. Other medical conditions that doctors often missed included ectopic pregnancy, appendicitis and bone fractures. Meningitis and cancer were the most frequent diagnostic mistakes for children. Drug errors were most often associated with anticoagulants, antidepressants, steroid preparations, antibiotics and antipsychotics.

The researchers observed that a fear of malpractice lawsuits often led doctors to perform tests that were not needed, prescribe unnecessary medications and refer patients more often. Some doctors even avoided treating patients with symptoms that they considered risky. These practices were referred to as "defensive medicine" in the report. This has caused health care costs to increase for both patients and insurance providers. The trend prompted leading medical groups to launch a "Choosing Wisely" campaign that encourages patients to question doctors to ensure that tests and medications were necessary.

Victims of medical malpractice face many challenges when trying to hold doctors and hospitals accountable for their actions. New Jersey requires plaintiffs in these cases to show that they have a good chance of prevailing before moving ahead, and state laws restrict noneconomic damages. An attorney familiar in these areas may have the experience necessary to assess the circumstances of a case and determine whether the medical professionals involved met required standards of care.

Contact the team of Woodbridge medical malpractice attorneys at Palmisano & Goodman, P.A. to learn more about recovering compensation: (732) 709-4400.