When Colorado residents go to the doctor, they may be at risk for a misdiagnosis that could put their health or even their lives at further risk. According to one study carried out by an insurance company, 46 percent of closed medical malpractice claims were related to an incorrect diagnosis or the failure to diagnose a serious, progressive illness. Even more significantly, 68 percent of paid malpractice claims were related to the diagnostic process, and 45 percent of these cases involved the death of the patient.
A misdiagnosis can be particularly dangerous when a condition like cancer is involved. Early detection and treatment can be critical to survival. Therefore, the failure to diagnose cancer can introduce damaging delays that make it impossible to properly treat the condition. In other cases, patients may undergo treatments that are unnecessary and harmful, given that they did not have the condition for which they were treated.
In a second study by an insurance company, 38 percent of all medical malpractice claims involving children in the past decade were also linked to misdiagnoses. In many cases, these medical mistakes were related to an improper or insufficient medical examination by the treating doctor. Physicians may not order appropriate tests and may not interpret the results correctly. In other cases, they may not conduct a full physical examination or take a thorough family history. The National Academy of Medicine said in 2015 that mistakes in diagnosis might be the third most common reason for deaths among hospital patients.
People who have suffered a worsened health condition due to a doctor's error may face escalating medical bills and a compromised quality of life. A medical malpractice attorney can review a patient's case and determine the potential for seeking compensation for the damages suffered as a result of a misdiagnosis.