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Diagnostic Errors a Leading Cause of Malpractice Claims

When the first Ebola victim in the United States died in a Dallas hospital, his family called for an investigation hours after the patient passed away. Family members claimed that top infectious disease doctors believe that the patient might have survived if his treatment had happened earlier. The patient had visited a hospital several days prior to being admitted complaining of a high fever. He told admitting staff he had been in Liberia, but despite the fact that he had potential symptoms of Ebola, he was sent home. emergency room

A medical malpractice attorney in New York knows that a failure to promptly diagnose a patient with a medical condition can result in the patient's prognosis becoming worse and can lead to an increased risk of death. While the Ebola case is unusual because the virus is relatively rare and this was the first case ever in the United States, misdiagnosis is not uncommon and it happens all the time.

The Consequences of Misdiagnosis for Patients

The nephew of the Ebola victim indicated that the deceased did not receive an experimental drug that had been successfully used to treat other Ebola patients. According to Bloomberg, the hospital reportedly indicated that it was too late to try other treatment options besides saline, oxygen and water. By the time he received medication that could help him, his kidneys were no longer working and he was breathing only with the assistance of a ventilator. In addition to the lawsuit, the Texas Department of State Health Services is considering an investigation into the patient's death.

This case is making headlines because it involves the first instance of an Ebola patient coming to the U.S. and the first death due to Ebola in the country. Many other patients who also have a delayed diagnosis never receive this kind of attention. Yet, Insurance News Net recently reported that as many as 31 percent of allegations for nonsurgical medical malpractice claims arose out of a problem with a timely and accurate diagnosis.

For example:

  • For family medicine claims, 37 percent of cases were diagnosis-related according to data from the largest physician-owned medical malpractice insurer in the U.S.
  • Among the 1,657 orthopedic malpractice claims, 13 percent were diagnosis-related and the greatest percentage involved a failure to diagnose an infection after an operation.
  • Among the internal medicine claims, 40 percent were diagnosis-related with the largest number of claims arising from the diagnosis of lung cancer.
  • Of the general surgery claims, 16 percent were related to a diagnostic problem, with the most common problem involving a failure to diagnose a laceration or puncture during a procedure.
  • Of the obstetrics claims, nine percent were related to diagnostic problems, including the failure to correctly and timely diagnose ectopic pregnancy.

Doctors need to improve their diagnostic efforts so patients can receive the prompt treatment they may need to save their lives.

For more information about how a medical malpractice attorney in New York can help you with your medical malpractice case, contact Jonathan C. Reiter Law Firm, PLLC. Call 212-736-0979 or visit and schedule a free consultation today.

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