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Diagnosis errors account for the highest number of paid medical malpractice claims according to a new study published online in BMJ Quality and Safety. The second and third most common medical errors were related to treatment and surgery mistakes, while all other types of errors combined made up the remaining 20% of malpractice payments.

Researchers analyzed data obtained from the National Practitioner Data Bank for the time period between 1986 and 2010 and found that misdiagnosis accounts for 28.6% of paid malpractice claims – more than 100,000 payments total. Diagnosis errors led to over 33% of the disabilities and nearly 40% of the fatalities covered by malpractice payments examined in the study.

According to Dr. David E. Newman-Toker, associate professor of neurology at Johns Hopkins and the study’s senior author, “At the policy level, there is no institute that views it as their problem. …You can’t get the treatment right if you don’t get the diagnosis right.” He suggests that physicians, hospitals and insurers work together to improve strategies for more accurate diagnoses.

If you or a loved one has been a victim of medical misdiagnosis, contact the medical malpractice law firm of Hodes Milman Liebeck at 866-730-1976 for a consultation and further information.