Those who follow patient safety trends believe that 5 to 15 percent of diagnoses are made in error. However, knowing that doctors are making errors is just one part of solving the problem. The other part of the problem is knowing why such mistakes are being made, which is something that may be hard to quantify.
While a doctor could trace his or her steps to figure out why a patient got the wrong medication, it may be harder or impossible to pinpoint a mental error. To help provide a better picture of the problem, the U.S. Institute of Medicine is publishing an article in September 2015. The report will also be part of a national conference where a University of Minnesota doctor will talk about how to spot some of the causes of misdiagnosis.
In one instance, a 15-year-old girl died because of a misdiagnosis. She was believed to have had a kidney infection when she actually had the Epstein-Barr virus, which prevented her blood from clotting. Doctors performed surgery on the girl even though some believed it wasn't safe to do so. According to the patient's father, there is a culture of deference that may have contributed to the misdiagnosis occurring even though lab tests were inconclusive.
Misdiagnosis and other doctor errors may lead to serious patient injury and even death. Those who have been hurt by a doctor error may wish to take legal action against that medical professional. If a patient dies due to a misdiagnosis or other mistakes, it may be possible for the victim's family to sue for wrongful death. An attorney may help a victim or his or her family to obtain compensation for medical bills, lost wages and other applicable damages.