The Law Offices of John Phebus

Diagnostic errors by Arizona physicians

Patients who are misdiagnosed could suffer serious injury or even death. One man was diagnosed with sinusitis when he actually had Ebola, and he infected two nurses after returning to the hospital two days after the initial diagnosis. The man eventually succumbed to the disease. While a misdiagnosis can be tragic, mistakes occur at the estimated rate of once per every 20 diagnoses made each year.

However, the chairman of the Coalition to Improve Diagnosis believes that 10 percent of diagnoses made are wrong. The coalition includes the leaders of groups such as the American College of Emergency Physicians and the American Association of Nurse Practitioners. The chairman said that the problem of misdiagnosis needs to be brought to the forefront and given the attention that it deserves. Among the reasons cited for inaccurate diagnoses include lack of communication, poor imaging systems and problems with clinical reasoning.

The representative of the coalition said that hospitals should address issues with patient hand-offs and increase education for all workers whether they are new or have many years of experience. Furthermore, hospitals should be encouraged to come up with a way to measure error rates when it comes to diagnosing patients. Once such a measure is created, health care providers and patients can collaborate to make sure that diagnostic errors occur less frequently.

If a patient is the victim of a doctor error, it could cause long-term health issues. An injured patient may want to discuss with an attorney the advisability of filing a medical malpractice lawsuit against the doctor and the hospital where the misdiagnosis occurred. If successful, the patient may obtain compensation for medical bills and other long-term costs related to the injury such as in-home care or physical therapy.

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