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Study identifies most common misdiagnosis categories

Misdiagnosis is a major risk for patients in New Jersey and across the United States. In fact, a new study finds that between 40,000 and 80,000 Americans may die each year due to various types of diagnosis errors. These mistakes might also cause serious harm to another 80,000 to 160,000 patients nationwide.

For the study, which was published in the journal Diagnosis, researchers at Baltimore's Johns Hopkins Medicine analyzed data from more than 11,000 medical malpractice claims filed in the U.S. and organized all the misdiagnosis events into general categories. For example, there are often several different diagnosis codes used for stroke events and heart attacks, and the researchers lumped them all into a single category called "vascular events." The authors of the study believe this is the first time misdiagnosis cases have been categorized in such a way.

The research team found that nearly 75% of all diagnostic errors that caused serious harm occurred in just three categories, which were identified as cancers, vascular events and infections. Specifically, over one-third of diagnostic errors causing death or permanent disability involved cancers, 22% involved vascular problems and 13.5% involved infections. The conditions that were most often misdiagnosed in those categories were lung cancer, stroke and sepsis. The other most commonly misdiagnosed conditions were heart attacks, meningitis, pneumonia, blood clots in the lungs or legs and skin, prostate and breast cancers.

Patients who have suffered harm as the result of misdiagnosis may be eligible to receive a financial settlement from the doctor who made the error. After reviewing the details of the case, an attorney might recommend filing a medical malpractice lawsuit seeking compensation for medical expenses, rehabilitation costs, lost wages, pain and suffering, mental anguish and more. Patients may begin the lawsuit process by contacting a personal injury law firm for a consultation.

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