Residents of Texas should know about the “Big Three,” which refers to the three most frequently misdiagnosed conditions: namely, cancers, vascular events and infections. A study led by researchers at Johns Hopkins University has looked into the rate at which patients with one of the Big Three are misdiagnosed, and the following are some of its findings.
First of all, 15 conditions, five in each category, provided the focus. The cancers were melanoma and breast, lung, colorectal and prostate cancer. The vascular events included heart attack, stroke and aortic aneurysm. Among the infections were sepsis, pneumonia and spinal cord abscesses.
After analyzing data from 91,755 patients across 28 different studies conducted in the past, researchers found that nearly 1 in 10 patients with one of the Big Three were the victims of a diagnostic error. Such errors can include misdiagnoses, delayed diagnoses and harmful delays in the communication of a doctor’s explanation to the patient. Many cases involved a delayed diagnosis that stemmed from a misdiagnosis.
The specific error rate per condition ranged from 2.2% for myocardial infarction to 62.1% for (admittedly rare) spinal abscesses. The percentage of serious misdiagnosis-related harm also varied; it was 1.2% for MI patients and 35.6% for spinal abscess patients. Overall, about 1 in 20 misdiagnosed patients suffered serious harm.
Whatever the extent of the harm they incurred, victims of a diagnostic error may pursue a medical malpractice case in their effort to be compensated for their losses. For example, they may have undergone the wrong treatments while their true condition worsened in the meantime. There may have been physical pain and emotional trauma involved, too. To see how their case holds up and how much they might be eligible for, victims may want to discuss their situation with a lawyer.