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Study highlights the costs of a missed or delayed diagnosis

One in three of the medical malpractice cases in West Virginia and around the country that involve patients who either died or were left permanently disabled are caused by delayed diagnosis or a misdiagnosis. That was the conclusion reached by researchers from the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine after studying 55,000 malpractice cases. The results of the study were released online by the medical journal Diagnosis on July 11.

Many patients misdiagnosed as having burning mouth syndrome

West Virginia residents should know about a condition known as burning mouth syndrome, which is characterized by a constant burning or tingling sensation in the mouth. Sometimes it goes together with dryness or a metallic taste in the mouth. There are many people who experience a burning sensation due to dry mouth, but this is not the same as BMS.

Study tracked errors that spread antibiotic-resistant bugs

Healthcare workers sometimes spread harmful bacteria to hospital patients in West Virginia. A study that tracked 125 healthcare workers in an intensive care unit for six months identified errors that could promote contamination by antibiotic resistant bacteria.

Misdiagnosis is a common reason for malpractice claims

The results of two recent studies suggest that between a third and a half of all medical malpractice claims in West Virginia and around the country are filed because of a misdiagnosis or a failure to diagnose. The research also reveals that inadequate medical assessments are often the reason doctors fail to identify potentially life-threatening medical conditions.

The misdiagnosis of rare diseases

The World Health Organization reports that rare diseases affect 400 million people throughout the world. A West Virginia resident might be considered to have a rare disease if fewer than 200,000 people in the United States are affected by the same disease. There are no treatment options for most rare diseases, and for others, diagnosis comes so late that treatment may be far less effective.

Study links stress with higher risk for surgical errors

Researchers have found that surgeons are 66 percent more likely to make errors on patients during stressful moments. West Virginia residents who are about to undergo surgery should know that medical errors contribute to between 250,000 and 440,000 deaths every year in the U.S. Many of these occur in operating rooms.

EHRs linked to medical malpractice

West Virginia residents who have been subjected to medical negligence should be aware of a study that found a link between malpractice and electronic health records, or EHRs. The study, which was published in Health Affairs, revealed that more than half of pediatric safety errors were related to these records. For example, the study found that one physician ordered five times the recommended dose of a medication because the electronic health record did not alert properly.

Several conditions commonly misdiagnosed in women

Misdiagnosis is a common problem for women in West Virginia who seek medical care with symptoms that could be attributed to many different issues. People who suffer harm due to a misdiagnosis or other medical error might be entitled to compensation for lost wages, pain and suffering, medical expenses or other damages. Among the conditions that are commonly missed in women because of equivocal symptoms are diverticulitis, irritable bowel syndrome, thyroid disease and heart disease.

Conditions that mimic Parkinson's may cause treatment delays

Many West Virginia patients may be diagnosed with Parkinson's disease based on their symptoms. These symptoms typically include trembling, weakness, muscles that feel stiff and walking with an unsteady gait. Unfortunately, because the symptoms of Parkinson's disease also mimic those of other illnesses and conditions, people may be misdiagnosed and receive the wrong treatment. Getting the correct diagnosis and beginning treatment as soon as possible gives patients the best prognosis.

Malpractice premiums and claims on the decline

Doctors in West Virginia might pay as much as $50,000 to $200,000 per year in medical malpractice insurance premiums, but the rate is not rising. This contrasts with the turn of the century when rates were going up as much as 25 percent. The average jury award was $3 million, and this drove some companies out of the business, leading some doctors to struggle in search of coverage.

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