Most Montana residents will visit a doctor at some point in their lives. Given the length of medical education and training, most patients and their families expect doctors to be knowledgeable. Nevertheless, despite all the training a doctor may have, medical errors can still happen, resulting in direct harm to a patient.

Residents of Montana may find it interesting to learn that according to a study which examined over 7,000 journal papers on medical malpractice claims, the most common claims were based on failure to diagnose. In adults, cancer and cardiac events were most commonly misdiagnosed. In children meningitis and cancers were the most misdiagnosed. Medication or drug errors were the second leading cause of medical malpractice claims.

Insurance companies like to claim that based on a fear of medical malpractice, doctors may indulge in defensive medicine by ordering unnecessary tests, making unnecessary referrals and the like. But all health care providers have an on-going duty to provide a reasonable standard of care. When they breach this duty and harm results, the healthcare provider may be found negligent and the doctor, nurse, pharmacist, and the hospital, may be held liable for damages. One doctor who was not part of the study advises patients to be persistent and attentive in matters of their health. He notes that empowering patients may help reduce misdiagnoses or missed diagnoses, and thereby prevent medical malpractice claims.

For anyone who believes they have been harmed by a negligent doctor, a medical malpractice or personal injury lawyer can review and evaluate the facts of one’s case. A patient may be able to recover compensation for lost income, loss of consortium, pain and suffering and more.

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