Each year, approximately 160,000 hospital patients die or are seriously harmed due to a missed diagnosis by a doctor or a diagnosis that comes too late. Patients are urged to ask questions if they are unsure about any symptoms that they are experiencing or if they are unsure about their medication. This may be especially true for those who are hospitalized as they may be in poorer health to start with.
Overall, a misdiagnosis is the most common mistake that doctors make, and it is estimated that 15 percent of medical conditions are wrongly diagnosed at the outset. Another common issue involves providing medication to the wrong patient. Often, a doctor will treat two patients with the same or similar names and give one patient medication intended for the other person. It may also be the result of poorly coordinated care that may cause a doctor to make a diagnosis without all relevant information about a patient.
Surgical errors such as wrong-site surgery or leaving air bubbles in the blood are also common. If an air bubble is left in a patient, it could lead to a lack of blood getting to key organs, which could result in death. Patients are advised to ask about proper positioning if they have a tube inside of them that will need to be removed.
If a failure to diagnose an illness leads to a worsened condition, it may be possible for injured victims to obtain compensation for the medical negligence. An attorney attorney who has experience in these types of matters can attempt to demonstrate, through a review of the patient's medical records as well as discussions with medical experts, that the doctor or other health care practitioner failed to live up to the appropriate standard of care and should thus be held financially responsible.