Failure to diagnose or the misdiagnosis of an illness is the basis of many medical malpractice lawsuits. In order for malpractice to be substantiated, the misdiagnosis or failure to diagnose must result in improper medical care, delayed treatment, or no treatment which results in the worsening of a patient’s condition.
In Doing harm in American health care: The case of misdiagnosis, Lola Butcher writes that “By some counts misdiagnosis leads to up to 80,000 hospital deaths each year—and results in billions in wasted medical spending. Lack of feedback and miscommunication are among the causes. Researchers, advocates, and others are pushing for changes and ‘diagnostic excellence.” March 9, 2019, www.managedcaremag.com.
In reviewing twenty-five years of U.S. malpractice claim payouts, Johns Hopkins researchers found that diagnostic errors and not surgical mistakes or medication overdoses accounted for the largest fraction of claims, the most severe patient harm, and the highest total of penalty payouts. According to David E. Newman-Toker, M.D., Ph.D., associate professor of neurology at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine:
Overall, diagnostic errors have been underappreciated and under-recognized because they’re difficult to measure and keep track of owing to the frequent gap between the time the error occurs and when it’s detected. These are frequent problems that have played second fiddle to medical and surgical errors, which are evident more immediately.
Case in point: In 1995, Sue Sheridan was sent home from the hospital with “a healthy baby” but in fact, baby Cal had high levels of bilirubin in his blood. The correct diagnosis would have shown that Cal needed treatment to avoid kernicterus and resulting brain damage. The missed diagnosis resulted in Cal developing cerebral palsy.
Neonatology is a subspecialty of pediatrics dealing with the care and treatment of newborns during the first 30 days of life. When allegations of missed diagnosis in the treatment of a newborn arise, a neonatology expert witness is required to analyze the medical records and present their unbiased opinion to the court. Contact Elite Medical Experts to retain an expert hand-selected for your exact case.