When people think of doctor errors, images of botched surgeries and emergency room fiascoes often spring to mind. However, even a primary care physician can be found guilty of medical malpractice. As a matter of fact, mistakes made by a primary care physician can be deadly.
Research has found that misdiagnosis is the leading cause of medical malpractice claims here in Massachusetts when it comes to primary care doctors. Researchers looked at nearly 551 malpractice claims filed over a five year period against primary care doctors. An alarming 397 of the claims involved a misdiagnosis. To make matters worse, a good portion of those diagnoses missed the fact that the patient had cancer either altogether or did not make the diagnosis quickly enough.
The remainder of the allegations had to do with prescribing the wrong medication, patients' rights, patient security or safety and miscellaneous medical treatment. By far, misdiagnosis is the number one complaint about primary care doctors. A delay or incorrect diagnosis can be devastating for a patient in the long run, especially when it comes to a medical issue such as cancer that has the best chance of treatment in its early stages.
The majority of the primary care medical malpractice cases studied here in Massachusetts were settled without having to go to court. Having said that, if a patient is not satisfied with any offer of settlement received, he or she has the right to take the case to a courtroom. Making these decisions can be complicated and confusing, so having the right advice and assistance can make all the difference in achieving justice for a patient or that patient's family.
Source: medicalxpress.com, Massachusetts primary care malpractice claims related to alleged misdiagnoses, No author, Sept. 30, 2013