Earlier this year, state health officials launched an investigation into the case of a single mother from Brooklyn who is dying from terminal cancer – a cancer that was reportedly misdiagnosed by doctors and radiologists at Kings County Hospital during a previous visit three years ago.
Our Queens medical malpractice lawyers understand that the cancer would have been treatable – and survivable – had it been discovered by the doctors she saw when it was only a 2-centimeter nodule on her right lung. Instead, The New York Daily News reports that as doctors continued to treat her for various other ailments, the cancer rapidly spread to her spine, brain and liver until it became inoperable.
Horrifying and tragic as this case is, it’s not uncommon. In fact, a new study by Irish researchers, published in BMJ Open, reveals that the most common medical malpractice claims made were for missed diagnoses.
Researchers analyzed some 7,200 journal papers written regarding medical malpractice claims. Those included numerous studies that were based in the U.S., Great Britain, Australia, France and Canada.
What they found was that, across the board, missed diagnosis was a major cause of medical malpractice claims, if not the top reason, accounting for between 26 and 63 percent of all claims. Death was the most common consequence of those missed diagnoses, accounting for between 15 and 48 percent of outcomes.
The most common missed diagnoses? Cancer and heart attacks, for adults. Others included ectopic pregnancies, bone fractures and appendicitis.
For children, cancer was still No. 1, followed by meningitis and related ailments.
The second most-common cause of medical malpractice claims were drug errors, specifically those related to steroid preparations, antibiotics, anticoagulants, antipsychotics and antidepressants.
In the case of the Brooklyn mother, she didn’t learn of her lung cancer until more than three years after she first went to the hospital emergency room complaining of breathing trouble. The doctors told her that her chest X-ray and EKG results were normal. They sent her home with Motrin.
Over the course of the next couple years, her cough worsened. She thought it was asthma. She continued to return to clinics and repeatedly to the hospital. No one told her there was a concerning growth on her lung.
In March, the former home health aide died, leaving behind a severely autistic 15-year-old daughter who had relied on her mother for everything.
What’s even more troubling about this case was that last month, her estate received a settlement of just $625,000 from the city. This is far less than the millions of dollars her daughter might have received, had she been informed of the state’s 15-month statute of limitations on medical malpractice claims.
This case shows why it’s urgent for all victims of medical malpractice – even if it’s suspected and not confirmed – to consult immediately with an experienced attorney to explore the options.
The Law Offices of Nicholas Rose, PLLC offers free consultations. Call 1-877-313-7673.
Most common medical malpractice claims for missed cancer, heart attacks, July 19, 2013, By Ryan Jaslow, CBS News
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Medical Malpractice Lawsuits Not to Blame for Heightened Medical Costs, Study Shows, June 5, 2013, Brooklyn Medical Malpractice Lawyer Blog