While many Arizona patients turn to their physicians for important insights and treatment decisions to improve their health, doctor errors can present a significant risk to a patient's well-being. Doctors often have an aura of genius and confidence, and many patients may be unaware of the potential for mistakes in any physician's practice. Diagnostic issues can be one of the most important types of mistake a doctor can make, especially when the diagnosis of a progressive disease like cancer is missed or delayed.
Physicians have noted that doctor errors often have gone unmentioned in the profession, whether due to concerns about liability or reputational damage. However, various studies have drawn attention to medical errors in the past decades in an effort to improve safety and quality within the medical profession. Since the examination of physician errors in the 1990s, the number of medication errors, surgical mistakes and hospital infections has declined. However, diagnostic errors have remained resistant to change; the rate of mistaken or missed diagnoses has remained consistent over the years even as other medical metrics have dramatically improved.
Issuing an incorrect diagnosis can lead to harmful or ineffective treatment, while a missed diagnosis can mean that a disease progresses without appropriate treatment. One report estimated that between 40,000 and 80,000 people lose their lives each year in the United States due to mistakes in diagnosis, while around 17 percent of diagnoses made each year are actually incorrect.
For a progressive disease like cancer, early detection and treatment can make a critical difference in the likelihood of a positive outcome. Patients who have experienced a worsened medical condition due to doctor errors in diagnosis or treatment can consult with a medical malpractice attorney. A lawyer might review a patient's case and provide advice about the potential of moving forward to seek compensation.