According to a 2013 study printed in the Journal of the American Medical Association, misdiagnosis was the most common reason patients filed a medical malpractice suit against a primary care physician in Massachusetts. “Misdiagnosis” included claims that the physician rushed through an exam and did not properly read the results, failed to make a referral to an appropriate specialist, or failed to follow up on abnormal test results. The study found that misdiagnosis was the major claim underlying 72 percent of the cases studied.
In compiling these statistics, researchers in Boston analyzed more than 500 malpractice lawsuits against primary care physicians in Massachusetts from 2005 to 2009. The analysis revealed that 397 lawsuits studied stemmed from claims of misdiagnosis, 68 from medication issues, 15 from doctor-patient communication, 11 from patient rights issues, and 8 from patient safety or security.
The study also revealed that primary care physicians (as opposed to specialists) were more likely to settle or lose a malpractice case. Malpractice cases against a primary care physician resulted in a settlement in 35 percent of cases and a verdict in favor of the injured patient in 1.6 percent of the cases. Conversely, malpractice claims against specialists resulted in a settlement in 21 percent of cases and a verdict in favor of the plaintiff in 0.9 percent of cases.
These statistics from Massachusetts reflect not only trends in the Bay State but also national trends. A study conducted earlier in 2013 found that misdiagnosis was the primary claim in 28.6 percent of malpractice suits nationwide and resulted in damages totaling $38.8 billion.
What To Do if You are the Victim of Malpractice
Malpractice can occur in a variety of ways. As the statistics above show, however, being fairly compensated for your injuries is not an easy task. A successful medical malpractice claim requires the assistance of a skilled and knowledgeable medical malpractice attorney as well as persuasive expert testimony from other doctors and specialists.
If you believe that you or a loved one may have been the victim of a misdiagnosis or any other sort of medical malpractice, there are a few steps you can take in order to help increase the likelihood of receiving either a settlement or a favorable verdict:
1. Take down names. Regardless of whether the malpractice occurred in a doctor’s office or a hospital, take down the names of all doctors, nurses, and technicians that were involved in caring for the patient.
2. Request medical records. The sooner these records are requested, the less likely it is that important records will be lost or tampered with.
3. Ask to receive any devices removed. If you had a surgically implanted device removed, ask that the item that was removed be turned over to you. If the hospital or office refuses, ask for a written letter detailing the reasons why they are refusing to turn the device over to you.
4. Seek out a second opinion. Preferably, the opinion should be sought from a doctor or hospital unaffiliated with the doctor or hospital group you believe injured you. Not only can this result in findings and opinions that support your malpractice claim but – most importantly – getting a second opinion may result in a change in care or treatment that mitigates or reverses the negative effects of the malpractice.
5. Consult with a medical malpractice attorney. Because medical malpractice cases are complex, the assistance of a qualified medical malpractice attorney can prove invaluable.
If you or a loved one has been injured by the negligence of a medical professional, it is important that you seek the advice of an experienced medical malpractice attorney who can advise you of your rights and help you get the compensation you deserve. Contact us today at (508) 755-7535 for a free consultation.