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Diagnostic errors are costly for Massachusetts patients and physicians

When someone who is ill goes to a physician, there is an expectation that the doctor will be able to help him or her get better. Unfortunately, that is not always the case. Humans make mistakes, and when doctors do so, results can be tragic. A Massachusetts resident may have legal rights if his or her physician has committed medical negligence, causing further pain or suffering.

Patients who are concerned about their primary care physician’s diagnosis – or failure to diagnose – may have a better shot at justice than victims of other malpractice. Researchers on a study featured in the Journal of American Medicine Association found these suits in Massachusetts are nearly twice as likely to result in a favorable verdict for the plaintiff than cases involving a specialist. Additionally, a malpractice suit against a primary care provider reaches a settlement 35 percent of the time, while only 21 percent of cases against a specialist settle.

What’s more, diagnostic errors are make up a substantial amount of medical malpractice claims. This is as true locally as it is nationally. A study in April found that nationwide, diagnostic errors were at the root of more than a fourth of all malpractice suits. In Massachusetts, a study in the Journal of American Medicine Association found that misdiagnoses accounted for nearly three-fourths of such claims against primary care physicians.

A doctor who rushes through an exam or fails to follow up on abnormal test results may be held accountable for any additional pain or suffering the victim experiences. Diagnostic errors – which can include failing to refer the patient to an appropriate specialist – can mean either an extended amount of time dealing with symptoms or even worse. Anyone who has experienced a doctor error should seek justice by filing a claim utilizing the help of an attorney.

Source:, “Misdiagnoses most common malpractice claim for Mass. Docs,” Zack Budryk, Oct. 8, 2013

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