Every year lawyers are inundated with cases of medical malpractice, and behind each one of those cases is someone whose life has been turned upside down. Medical malpractice attorneys work to reveal the truth of what happened, and who is responsible for these misfortunes.
Investigations by malpractice attorneys have uncovered the sources of thousands of cases of misdiagnosed patients, tracking the problem back to careless doctors and inconsistent hospital practice.
Now though, these cases are helping doctors to be more thorough and avoid mistakes. A recent article in The Wall Street Journal explains how analyses of patient misdiagnosis incidents are being used by insurance companies and health-care providers to develop innovative systems which will assist doctors in treatment accuracy.
"In our law firm, we screen over 2000 potential medical malpractice cases a year. Out of the 2000, we identify approximately 50 that warrant a malpractice lawsuit. In hundreds more, however, we identify bad medical treatment or practices but for various reasons a lawsuit is not appropriate. Even in those cases, we help the victims bring the problems to the attention of appropriate agencies and administrators and we have seen policies changed based on these reports. Civil lawsuits are truly the most effective way to bring immediate change to dangerous medical practices. Insurance companies don't like lawsuits but future patients who are not subjected to similar mistakes certainly do!" - Jon R Perry of Rosen Louik & Perry in Pittsburgh, PA.
Errors in diagnostics are the primary factor for medical malpractice suits, accounting for over 40% of the cases. On average, each of these cases have cost insurers roughly $300,000 apiece to settle. Not only are these errors costly to insurance companies, but they are devastating to patients. It is estimated that every year, 40,000 to 80,000 deaths occur among hospitalized individuals due to misdiagnoses.
Medical malpractice attorneys and doctors alike, feel that tragedies like these can be avoided with better technology and a more structured routine.
However, inaccuracies when diagnosing a patient many times do not stem from a single source. Studies have shown that there are usually three or more breakdowns leading to an incorrect diagnosis including lack of appropriate testing, discrepancies or miscommunications between doctors, and even patients' refusal to cooperate with necessary procedures.
Doctors are now using new devices and following processes to help prevent making mistakes. Some now employ electronic reminders and alert systems to order tests and follow up with patients, along with creating a tighter circle of referral doctors to whom they will send patients.
With the assistance of malpractice law firms like Rosen Louik & Perry, P.C., health insurers have been able to examine historical cases and create programs to improve the patient care in hospitals. The Wall Street Journal sites California-based managed care consortium, Kaiser Permanente, as one of the leading researches in efforts to assist doctors in properly diagnosing patients. Their research into malpractice claims has identified over 420,000 abnormal biopsies and 320,000 abnormal mammograms which have led to the diagnosis of cancer in 450 individuals who otherwise may have gone untreated.
Doctors believe that regardless of training, human error will account for some degree of misdiagnoses but also note that continual education can reduce it. The medical malpractice and patient safety company owned by Harvard, known as CRICO/RMF, is offering medical-education credits to any doctors that will assist in the study of closed medical malpractice cases. They are also overseeing a program in Massachusetts' primary care facilities to help make misdiagnoses less common.