Williams, Walsh & O'Connor, LLC

Studies indicate patients need to be wary of misdiagnoses

Are you struggling with what seems like an intractable medical condition that doesn't respond well to treatment? Is your doctor dismissing your fears and telling you that your symptoms are just "middle age" or nerves? Do you have a sneaking suspicion that your child's pediatrician is missing something -- but the pediatrician is treating you like a nervous parent who is just worrying too much?

For heaven's sake, go get a second opinion. That's not just advice coming from an office that handles medical malpractice claims, it's advice based on a couple of new studies that show just how common (and deadly) misdiagnoses can be in both adults and children.

The Doctors Company, a physician-owned malpractice insurer, released a report showing that their review of 1,215 claims from 2008 to 2017 indicated that misdiagnoses were the cause of 38 percent of malpractice claims involving children. According to their own study, the failures were largely due to a combination of inadequate medical assessments and poor communication with the children's caregivers (which no doubt made the medical assessments harder). In other words, doctors weren't always listening and looking as carefully as they should have been.

A second report, released by the malpractice carrier Coverys, concerned a review of 1,800 malpractice claims from 2013 to 2017. According to their study, 46 percent of malpractice claims were due to problems with a diagnosis. In 45 percent of those claims, the patient ultimately died.

For doctors, these reports are both a lesson and a wake-up call. For patients, they are a warning: If you aren't sure about a diagnosis, seek a second opinion. Don't be afraid to fire a doctor that isn't listening and doesn't have your best interests at heart.

If you have fallen victim to a misdiagnosis or your loved one has died as a result, you may have the right to file a medical malpractice claim. An attorney can help you better understand your options.

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