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Do Medical Malpractice Claims Teach Hospitals Anything?

Written by Berkowitz

physician looking out the windowMedical malpractice claims may be dreaded by every physician and hospital facility in the country, but there is a positive side to these lawsuits: They highlight critical errors that could be avoided in the future. In fact, data provided from past claims could help hospitals fine-tune their approaches for diagnostics, treatments, and even follow-ups in a variety of medical specialties, according to a recent article in the Wall Street Journal.

Doctors and hospital administrators can learn valuable lessons from past malpractice claims brought against themselves, as well as others. These mistakes that put patients at-risk and expose them to lawsuits are often easily avoided. Malpractice insurance companies and medical specialty groups use malpractice lawsuits – including those that have been settled, dismissed, or tried – to identify common reasons why there are malpractice suits, and the underlying risks that their facility may face in regard to patient safety.

Insurers are Using Malpractice Suits, Too

Medical malpractice insurers are using closed claims to help them assess risks in medical specialties. These risks then help them determine their insurance rates. But, insurers are not just using these claims to help them make more money off of physicians and clinics. They also use this information to help doctors improve their diagnostics, accuracy, follow up skills, and even test result interpretations so that misdiagnosis or delayed diagnosis situations no longer occur.

What Lawsuits are the Most Common?

Surprisingly, there is a common theme for medical malpractice claims across all medical specialties. These include:

  • Failure to properly diagnose
  • Failure to diagnose in an adequate amount of time
  • Poor techniques used in procedures
  • Miscommunication
  • Failure to perform proper testing

How Lawsuits Can Help

Lawsuits highlight common errors among physicians, and common harm seen in certain specialties. For example, in obstetrics, a physician can fail to properly monitor the unborn child’s birth weight. At the time of delivery, the physician chooses to do a vaginal birth only to find that the baby’s shoulders become lodged in the mother’s pelvis – known as shoulder dystocia. This can lead to damage of the brachial plexus (nerves around the baby’s shoulder), and is a common injury. By being aware of this, more obstetricians can avoid similar lawsuits by properly monitoring a child’s birthweight and considering a C-section if the baby appears to be too big for the mother’s pelvis.

Failure to Diagnose is Still the Number One Reason for Lawsuits

Despite all of the knowledge and learning opportunities, failure to diagnose is still the leading reason for medical malpractice lawsuits in the United States, according to Live Science. The most common diseases that were not diagnosed properly were cancers. The study, which reviewed claims filed in the United States, Canada, France and even Australia, found that 26 to 63 percent of claims filed had to do with a missed diagnosis incident.

Was Your Condition Misdiagnosed?

If you suffered from a failure to diagnose or delayed diagnosis, you are not alone. Thousands of claims are still filed in the United States for improper diagnosing – despite the advances in medical technology. If you are the victim of a missed diagnosis, contact a medical malpractice attorney immediately. Contact Berkowitz and Hanna LLC today to schedule your no-obligation consultation. Call us or contact us online to get started.