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Missed diagnoses lead to the most malpractice cases

What is the main reason people sue their doctors after they fall ill? It's failing to diagnose a problem as soon as it should have been determined. Imagine if you were suffering from an oddly shaped patch on your skin that continued to grow and change. You go to the doctor and have tests performed, but they say you're fine. Later, you find out that you actually have skin cancer, and now it's progressed to the point where you'll need much more care to get rid of it.

You'd be furious with the medical team that made the mistake, and you're not alone. In a study that reviewed medical malpractice claims against doctors in the U.S., France, Australia, and Canada, between 26 percent and 63 percent of the cases were based on a missed diagnosis.

Cancer was the most frequently missed disease, according to the study. It was particularly common for lung, colon, and breast cancers to be missed, while melanoma was also commonly misdiagnosed. Heart attacks and meningitis were also misdiagnosed frequently, according to the data.

Misdiagnoses aren't the only reason that people sue. Another main cause of lawsuits is medication errors. A simple prescription mix-up can lead to serious consequences for a patient. Adverse drug reactions and prescription-related errors were fairly common in these cases.

Researchers pointed out that these lawsuits went to court, but they weren't necessarily won. Around two-thirds of the cases in the United States don't stand up in court and are dismissed. This is why patients need to have as much data and expert testimony supporting them as possible.

Source: Live Science, "Failure to Diagnose Is No. 1 Reason for Suing Doctors," Rachael Rettner, accessed July 01, 2015

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