As some Ohio residents know, many patients die yearly around the country due to doctor error. Mistakes such as operating on the wrong site or the wrong patient as well as prescription error all have a part to play. Approximately 5 to 15 percent of the deaths are caused by a misdiagnosis. There are a variety of reasons why this happens.
The causes of a misdiagnosis may be due to faulty input. For instance, a doctor may be misled by an erroneous radiographic report. Cognitive mistakes are those that deal with the doctor’s ability to arrive at a diagnosis. Anchoring is where a doctor refuses to let new information change his or her initial diagnosis. Confirmation bias when a medical professional uses symptoms to confirm a hunch. In both types of cognitive mistakes, a health care professional should be aiming at dismissing an initial diagnosis rather than bolstering it. Accumulating a differential diagnosis and running tests to determine the true diagnosis is essential.
In one case, a young girl was admitted to a hospital with a presumed diagnosis of kidney infection for which she was given antibiotics. She previously suffered a serious nosebleed. At some point, doctors thought her gallbladder was involved and scheduled surgery. She died immediately after the surgery due to internal bleeding. A post-mortem showed the girl suffered from low platelets decreased by the Epstein-Barr virus.
When doctors fail to let new information affect an initial diagnosis, a patient may die. The family of the decedent may suffer both emotionally and financially. A medical malpractice attorney may review the decedent’s medical records and confer with experts in order to determine whether a civil lawsuit should be filed seeking damages from the practitioner who was responsible for making the fatal medical error.