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Test mistakes can be a costly form of medical malpractice

Mistakes can happen throughout the health care industry and testing errors can cost patients gravely. Failure to diagnose existing medical conditions and inaccurately diagnosing patients’ illnesses are dangerous mistakes and may leave patients without the care they need.

Diagnostic errors are linked to billions of dollars in malpractice payouts and their influence could be much higher than previously anticipated. Some researchers believe that mistakes in medical testing could pose the biggest threat to patient safety when compared to other types of medical malpractice. Test mistakes can include contamination with a foreign cell, transposing specimens, and identifying patients incorrectly.

One common issue that leads to diagnostic errors and medical test mistakes is mixing up paperwork, which is especially disturbing when individuals are given a cancer diagnosis. An erroneous cancer diagnosis can trigger a series of follow up events like radiation therapy, unnecessary surgeries, and even chemotherapy. Patients may learn weeks or months after a diagnosis of cancer that they have another condition, leaving them confused and dealing with the side effects of typical cancer treatments.

Just as dangerous is when doctors misdiagnose or miss serious medical conditions in patients. Failing to get adequate medical care can delay treatment or improvement in a patient, thereby allowing the condition to get worse as the patient continues to suffer.

Connecticut patients would be well advised to get a second opinion and possibly a second round of tests to confirm accuracy after receiving a major diagnosis. Likewise, continuing to feel ill after being diagnosed and receiving treatment could be a sign that doctors made a mistake, which may or may not be the results of medical malpractice

Source: Poughkeepsie Journal, “Medical test mistakes pose serious risk,” Lisa Iannucci, June 1, 2014

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