A visit to a hospital emergency department should have a positive outcome whereby doctors quickly and accurately assess your injury or illness, decide if you need additional testing or care, and if so, admit you.

But the care that patients receive was criticized in a recent government study which reported that 250,000 Americans die yearly due to misdiagnoses.

Conducted by Johns Hopkins for the U.S. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, the study revealed that among 130 million ED visits in the U.S. annually, 7.4 million patients are misdiagnosed. In addition, 2.6 million suffer an adverse event and about 370,000 suffer serious harm from diagnostic errors.

Top Five Medical Conditions

According to the study, the top five medical conditions associated with misdiagnosis are stroke, myocardial infarction, aneurysm and dissection, spinal cord compression and injury, and venous thromboembolism (blood clots), according to the study.

Other conditions that result from misdiagnosis include meningitis and encephalitis, sepsis, lung cancer, traumatic brain injury, arterial thromboembolism, spinal and intracranial abscess, cardiac arrhythmia, pneumonia, gastrointestinal perforation and rupture, or intestinal obstruction.

While the findings were quickly criticized by the president of the American College of Emergency Physicians, one of the authors of the study – David Newman-Toker, M.D., Ph.D., a neurologist at Johns Hopkins University – defended the methodology and told Fierce Healthcare magazine that “high levels of variation in care (across conditions, across hospitals, across demographic groups) tells us that these errors do not need to be thought of as ‘the price of doing business.’ It tells us that there are already probably ways to get it right.”

Determining If You Have a Medical Malpractice Claim

Correctly diagnosing a patient in the emergency department can be one of the most challenging but important things that doctors do. While a misdiagnosis may not make a major difference in some cases, cancer or stroke misdiagnosis can have fatal consequences.

A misdiagnosis could form the basis of a medical malpractice or wrongful death claim. Medical malpractice occurs when the action or inaction of a healthcare provider deviates from the acceptable standards of care. A medical malpractice attorney can examine your case’s facts and inform you of your legal options.

If you or someone that you care about has been harmed or died due to a faulty medical misdiagnosis, our team of medical malpractice attorneys at Smith LaCien can answer your questions or conduct an independent investigation. We handle cases on a contingency basis, which means we don’t get paid anything unless we win. To learn more about how we can help you, call us at (312) 509-8900 or contact us using our online form.