Missed Diagnoses is #1 Cause of Medical Malpractice Claims

A recently released study demonstrates that most medical malpractice claims stem from missing serious illnesses and medical conditions. The international study specifically focused on claims asserted against primary care physicians because of their role as the first line of care for patients. The results of the study are noteworthy but not necessarily surprising.

The research encompassed studies performed in the US, the United Kingdom and Ireland.  The results were the same across the board.  The most common allegation in medical malpractice claims arise from missed diagnoses by primary care physicians, accounting for as much as 63 percent of total claims. Of those missed diagnoses, the most common miss in adults was for cancer and heart attacks.  Other commonly occurring misses that resulted in claims include fractures and appendicitis.

According to CBS News which initially reported the results of the study, the results do not come as a complete surprise to physicians.  Reportedly, the most common missed diagnoses are some of the most difficult conditions to spot. Typically only a small portion of those who go to a primary care doctor experiencing health concerns actually have a serious medical condition and picking those few out of the mass of patients seen everyday can be exceptionally difficult.

The study serves as an excellent risk management tool for physicians highlighting areas that might give fodder for the most lawsuits.  Physicians should take a close look at this study and consider how they can better enhance their practice to avoid these common claims.