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News2013July › Doctors routinely miss heart attacks or cancers › July 2013

Doctors routinely miss heart attacks or cancers

A heart attack or cancer are the two most common conditions a doctor will miss or mistake for something less serious, a review of malpractice suits has revealed

A heart attack or cancer are the two most common conditions a doctor will miss or mistake for something less serious, a review of malpractice suits has revealed.
Misdiagnosis and drug errors-where the wrong drug or dose is prescribed-are the main reasons patients sue their doctor, the researchers discovered. And most of the claims are being made against the family doctor rather than the hospital consultant.
In a review of malpractice claims made against doctors in the US, the UK and France, researchers found that a missed diagnosis accounted for the majority of malpractice suits, with heart attack and cancer being the most common conditions to be misdiagnosed. In up to 48 per cent of cases, the patient died. Up to 20 per cent of claims resulted from a dug error, where the wrong dose or drug was prescribed.
Perhaps the most alarming finding was the rise in cases against the family doctor, GP or primary care worker, rather than the consultant or specialist. In the US, up to 16 per cent of claims were against the primary care doctor, while the increase in claims against the GP had risen by 20 per cent in just one year, and the number of cases against the GP doubled between 1994 and 1999.
(Source: BMJ Open, 2013; 3 (7): e002929).


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