Caroselli, Beachler & Coleman, L.L.C.

Frequency of misdiagnosis highlighted

When a pediatric specialist received a misdiagnosis on the throat cancer that doctors had labeled as acid reflux, he realized the seriousness of the problem. A resident finally located the tumor that other surgeons had repeatedly missed. The physician eventually had his voice box removed and can now only speak in a whisper. He thinks he might still have his voice if the cancer had been detected sooner. However, he hasn't publicly mentioned hiring medical malpractice attorneys.

When all is said and done, he is thankful to be alive. He has been a doctor for 40 years and says that the misdiagnosis really surprised him. However, statistics bear out that misdiagnoses can occur in up to 20 percent of cases and are much more common than incorrect surgeries or wrong prescriptions although those medical mistakes receive more publicity. A 2009 report indicated that 28 percent of misdiagnosis can be fatal, life-threatening or result in permanent disability. A separate study indicated that they account for more than 40,000 deaths annually, which is about the same number as those who die from breast cancer.

A recent international conference on diagnostic mistakes highlighted the severity of the problem. One of the organizers explained that the issue is part of the iceberg of medical mistakes. Many errors occur because of perspective or negligence, not because of the difficulty of diagnosis. However, the problem has been ignored historically, in part due to a hesitation in the medical field to face the issue. An internist who is investigating the problem says that he doesn't believe any hospitals in the nation track diagnostic mistakes.

If someone is the victim of a diagnostic mistake, they could suffer permanent injuries. A personal injury attorney might be able to file a lawsuit on behalf of the victim.

Source:, "Misdiagnosis more common than drug errors or wrong-site surgery", Sandra G. Boodman, June 06, 2013

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