Diagnostic Errors

Learning that you have a severe or life-threatening illness changes your world. Perhaps the only thing worse is discovering that your diagnosis should have been made sooner or that you were treated for the wrong condition–and now it is too late to take effective action.

Diagnostic errors can be defined as a diagnosis that is missed, delayed or wrong. In an important 2013 study on medical malpractice, one researcher reported that diagnostic errors could easily be the biggest patient safety problem in the United States. The analysis found that these errors account for the largest number of claims, the most severe patient harm, and the highest malpractice payouts. The estimated number of patients suffering permanent injury or death as a result of misdiagnosis, doubled from 80,000 to 160,000. And the research concluded that this number is probably too low.

The human toll of diagnostic errors is incalculable, and the financial consequences may be profound. No amount of recovery money can restore you and your family to where you were before the malpractice, but it can help to ease the medical and financial stresses that follow.

The Dennehy Law Firm has successfully handled many diagnostic error cases, including missed or delayed diagnosis of cancers, infections, heart attacks, and brain disease. We find that the key in these cases is putting together the elements to determine whether the doctor and/or hospital met the standard of care in treating the patient, and whether their negligence caused harm.

We go behind the records in order to understand how the error could have occurred: does the chart reflect critical thinking? Was the doctor rushed? What was the doctor thinking? Was there follow-up of abnormal test results? Did technological support identify risks proactively rather than after the fact? We believe that making hospitals and physicians accountable for their actions helps to make the medical care system safer for everyone.