A hospital or medical facility should be among the places where you feel safe. Unfortunately, this is not always the case, and thousands of patients each year find themselves in danger during their stays at medical facilities. This is due to the increasing rate of errors that lead to injury, illness and death.
If you recently visited your New Jersey health care professional because of some worrisome symptoms, you may have felt more than frustration if your doctor and the specialists you saw did little to help you. In fact, as your symptoms worsened, you began to believe someone had made a serious mistake in your diagnosis. This type of medical error is among the most common forms of malpractice, often leading to long-term health issues or worse.
Weak links in the chain
Researchers have been trying to narrow down the point in a diagnostic process where the most errors occur. As you may know, diagnosing a medical condition often includes the collection of many forms of data and the opinions of numerous specialists. The problem arises when one person incorrectly draws a conclusion from which other medical professionals in the chain base their diagnoses and treatment options. Some common errors include the following:
- A nurse fails to take your thorough medical profile and family health history.
- Your primary care physician decides it is not necessary to give you a physical exam.
- Doctors fail to order testing common for your genetic makeup or screenings appropriate for your age.
- Doctors order the wrong diagnostic tests or neglect to order testing your symptoms suggest.
- Lab technicians make mistakes in performing your diagnostic tests, mix up patient samples or misinterpret test results.
- Doctors fail to report their conclusions to you so that you can make changes in your lifestyle or otherwise improve your health.
Among these common errors, insurers report that more than half of the indemnities they pay are the result of mistakes in the lab. For example, if a patient's test results came back negative for a cancer that was growing in the patient's body, he or she may have learned the truth too late to stop the disease from spreading. This is all too common, and families are left facing the devastating consequences.
Despite the research and reports, many hospitals and medical clinics are not putting checks and balances in place to avoid errors at critical stages of the diagnostic process. If you or a loved one suffered serious injury from a misdiagnosis, you have a right to answers about your legal options.