Failure to Diagnose Is No. 1 Reason for Suing Doctors

The most common outcome for patients as a result of the alleged malpractice was death. The second most common reason for a lawsuit was medication errors, such as prescription-related errors or adverse drug reactions. The researchers emphasized that malpractice suits should not be conflated with actual medical errors the majority of malpractice suits (about two-thirds in the United States) do not hold up in court. In addition, most patients who experience adverse events do not file medical malpractice claims, said study researcher Dr. Emma Wallace, of the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland, in Dublin. But understanding malpractice suits can help doctors identify situations that may result in adverse events for patients, as well as systems that can be put into place to help prevent errors from happening, said Dr. David Troxel, medical director at The Doctors Company, the largest physician-owned medical malpractice insurer in the United States, located in Napa, Calif. Troxel cited heart attacks in women as an example of how suits regarding missed diagnoses led to greater awareness among doctors. Women are more likely to have “atypical” heart attack symptoms such as gastrointestinal problems, which differ from the classic signs of a heart attack of chest or arm pain, Troxel said. “Part of that information came out of seeing that some claims in which [heart attacks] were being missed were in women,” Troxel said. Doctors who reviewed these malpractice claims could then relay that information to other doctors through talks or in educational settings, he said. “Ultimately [the process of analyzing malpractice claims] can contribute to improving the quality of medical practice,” Troxel said.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s