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Study shows 28 percent of ICU patients die with misdiagnosis

When readers in Houston go to the hospital, they expect their doctors to accurately diagnose their medical conditions and then properly treat them according to that diagnosis. However, this of course is not always the case. Instead, a misdiagnosis or a failure to diagnose can occur. When these events happen, patients can be at risk of serious medical malpractice injuries and death.

Recently, a meta-analysis of 31 autopsy-based studies found that 28 percent of ICU deaths occur with a misdiagnosis. The study also found that 8 percent of ICU patients die with what is termed a "potentially fatal major missed diagnosis" such as a myocardial infarction. These numbers are alarming because they are higher than what a similar previous study found. In response, some doctors have questioned the accuracy of the study due to new medical improvements since the study was performed. However, regardless of the improvements, the fact remains that medical misdiagnoses happen far too often.

Victims of medical malpractice such as misdiagnosis can face personal injury and even death. Those who are injured may have to live with a worsened medical condition or a temporary or permanent disability. Recovering from these types of impairments can physically and emotionally drain a patient. It can also have a profound financial effect as well. The patients will face undeserved medical expenses due to the mistakes of a negligent physician, which can further hinder their ability to obtain the quality of health care that they deserved.

Situations like these are detrimental and unfair. Fortunately, a wronged patient can look to the law for help. By establishing that a doctor owed the victim a duty of care, the duty was breached and the breach resulted in injuries, the victim can obtain compensation. Such compensation can then be applied toward medical expenses, pain and suffering and lost wages.

Source: General Surgery News, "Nearly 30% of ICU Deaths Have Missed Diagnoses," David Wild, Dec. 24, 2012

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