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Delayed diagnosis tops allegation list in medical claims

People who work in emergency rooms and hospitals in California may be interested in a new report that gives insight into lawsuits filed against medical providers. The report found that more than 50% of allegations in civil claims filed against hospitals were due to a failure to make a prompt diagnosis. The report came from Coverys, a Boston-based provider of insurance.

Coverys looked at more than 1,300 closed emergency department-related medical malpractice cases. The cases analyzed were filed between 2014 and 2018. A delay of diagnosis was found to be the root cause in the majority of the examined cases. Not having a complete family history of the patient, failing to do a physical exam on the patient and ordering incorrect diagnostic tests were often the causes of the delayed or incorrect diagnosis. This lack of information is often due to the urgent nature of the emergency department.

Cardiovascular and cardiac conditions topped the list of liability claims. Infections, such as meningitis and pneumonia, were also a frequent cause of civil suits. Researchers are encouraging emergency departments to do focused physicals and evaluations that are driven by the patient's symptoms in order to reduce any delays.

Medical practitioners have the legal and ethical responsibility to thoroughly examine their patients in a timely manner to properly diagnose and treat the patient. Doctors who fail to do so may have behaved negligently. Patients who were harmed due to a doctor's negligence may be able to collect damages for their medical care, lost wages and pain and suffering. A lawyer may be able to file a medical malpractice claim against the medical practitioners or hospital on behalf of their client. For example, a lawyer may be able to show that the physician was tired and failed to perform the proper exam, resulting in the delayed diagnosis.

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