Researchers looked at reports of malpractice claims at an international level. The study confirmed what other studies have found in the past. The majority of medical malpractice incidents are not extreme surgical errors; rather, most doctor errors are diagnosis errors.

The international study gets more specific by identifying the conditions that are most often misdiagnosed. They are medical issues that almost everyone has heard and is afraid of: cancer and heart attacks.

Some might scratch their heads and wonder how anyone could not know that they’d had a heart attack. But it isn’t a hardship that most people face before the one time that they face it. One might assume that doctors, however, have the experience and knowledge to identify and diagnose the symptoms of a heart attack.

Certain medical and safety professionals who claim to be trying to prevent medical mistakes will try to reach out to patients. They will tell patients how important it is for them to ask questions and call their doctor if they think something is wrong. Undoubtedly, those actions are wise for patients to engage in to best protect themselves.

But what if a patient doesn’t know what questions to ask? What if a doctor fails to identify a potential health issue and, therefore, gives a patient the impression that she has nothing to worry about? The average person has a busy life to lead and to enjoy; constantly questioning their health isn’t a natural state-of-being.

Placing unreasonable responsibility on patients regarding the prevention of medical malpractice such as misdiagnosis could cause a wronged patient to someday feel needlessly guilty for what may actually have been a doctor’s negligence. Victims of medical mistakes — the ones whose bodies and lives are put in danger — shouldn’t be ashamed to speak up and seek help.


Source: CBS News, “Most common medical malpractice claims for missed cancer, heart attacks,” Ryan Jaslow, July 19, 2013