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On 11/5/20, the Iowa Association for Justice (f/k/a the Iowa Trial Lawyers Association) named Russ Hixson, of Hixson & Brown, the Outstanding Member Award recipient for 2020.

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Diagnostic mistakes lead to the most malpractice cases

At some point in everyone’s life, they must put their trust into the hands of medical professionals. Living a healthy lifestyle is the best hope for longevity, but getting second opinions for serious conditions can also be important. However, Iowa residents should be aware that medical mistakes are the third leading cause of death in the United States. Within the category of medical negligence, diagnostic errors are the most common cause of malpractice claims.

A recent study examined over 10,000 medical malpractice claims from 2013 through 2017. The analysis showed that 33 percent of all medical malpractice claims were related to some form of diagnosis error. Within the subset of diagnosis mistakes, 36 percent of examined claims resulted in the death of a patient. Diagnostic errors are also the most commonly cited mistake in lawsuits alleging malpractice. The second most common category of claims was procedural and surgical mistakes, which accounted for 24 percent of all cases. At 14 percent of all claims, the third leading category was medical management errors, which commonly includes decisions about medication or overall strategies for combatting illness and injury.

The study highlighted several points at which physicians are prone to making diagnostic errors. For example, failing to properly consider family history or conduct an appropriately thorough physical exam are flashpoints for medical mistakes. Neglecting to order or accurately assess lab testing is another issue. Inaccurate interpretation of radiology tests is the third major driver of diagnostic mistakes.

Medical malpractice cases are often complex and time-consuming. With over 250,000 people dying annually from medical errors, however, claims are often necessary. By getting a consultation with an experienced medical malpractice lawyer, a victim could determine if they have a viable case.

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