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Study shows internists most often sued over misdiagnosis

According to a study by a top medical malpractice insurer, misdiagnosis complaints are the most common insurance claims filed against internal medicine doctors in Arizona and across the United States. The study, which was conducted by The Doctors Company, also found internists are more likely to be sued over severe injuries than doctors practicing in other specialties.

For the study, researchers examined 1,180 claims filed against internists. All the cases closed between 2007 and 2014. The study found that 39 percent of all claims involved misdiagnosis or delayed diagnosis. Of those claims, 56 percent alleged that internists failed to conduct adequate patient assessments, including diagnostic tests. Further, the study found that 58 percent of claims filed against internists involved severe injuries, compared to 34 percent for doctors practicing in other specialties.

The Doctors Company collaborated with practicing physicians to determine the leading causes of patient injuries. By conducting an examination of the cases, they determined that 33 percent of injuries were caused by assessment issues, 25 percent were caused by patient-related factors and 21 percent were caused by communication failures between patients and doctors. Some internal medicine practices plan to use the case studies to teach doctors how to make better medical decisions.

Arizona residents harmed by doctor errors, including misdiagnosis and failure to diagnose, may benefit by discussing their case with an attorney. After reviewing the details of the case, legal counsel may recommend filing a medical malpractice lawsuit against a negligent doctor or hospital for damages. If the lawsuit is successfully proven in court, a victim could be awarded financial compensation for medical expenses, pain and suffering, loss of income, and more.

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