People in Colorado expect to receive a correct diagnosis and proper treatment when they go to the doctor's office or the hospital with a medical problem. However, medical errors can pose a serious risk to patients' health; people who are misdiagnosed may face a worsened health condition or incorrect treatments that actually undermine their well-being. In the late 1990s, studies estimated that around 98,000 people lose their lives each year across the United States due to medical mistakes, sparking media reports and official hearings about the problem.
Many Colorado women have noted that they struggle with receiving a correct diagnosis for medical problems, especially those that concern the female reproductive system. For years, they have shared their stories of doctors dismissing their pain and discomfort or focusing only on fertility. However, more attention has been drawn recently to disorders like endometriosis, polycystic ovarian syndrome, and fibroids. Not only can these conditions contribute to infertility, they can also lead to serious pain or other physical symptoms.
Symptoms of heart attacks and strokes often differ for men and women in Colorado. Because the bulk of medical research has traditionally focused on men, health care workers routinely fail to recognize heart attacks and strokes in women compared to men. They sometimes take more time to diagnose these conditions in women, which delays treatment and deprives some female patients the chance for a full recovery.
Under medical malpractice law in Colorado, those who are injured because a doctor, nurse or other medical professional failed to live up to an objective standard of care may file a claim and be reimbursed for their losses. Below are five of the most common errors that can be made in the medical field and, thus, five of the most common causes in malpractice claims.
Between 70% and 80% of surgeons in Colorado and throughout the U.S. never receive a complaint about unprofessional behavior. Of those who do, most show a willingness to improve their performance. Still, that leaves a small group of surgeons who are both negligent and hard to work with. This combination can have a negative impact on patient health and safety.
Colorado residents should know that two recent studies have linked the majority of malpractice claims with misdiagnosis. In a 2017 study involving 62,966 malpractice claims filed by hospital patients, University of Michigan researchers found that 22 percent involved misdiagnosis. Two years earlier, the National Academy of Medicine stated that diagnostic errors may be the third leading cause of death among hospitalized patients.
Some people in Colorado may be misdiagnosed because they suffer from a rare disease. In the United States, a rare disease is one that affects fewer than 200,000 people in the country annually. For many rare diseases, treatments are few or are more effective at earlier stages, but the disease is rarely detected in time. Half of all people who suffer from rare diseases are children.
Medical professionals in Colorado and throughout the country may be placed in a tough spot when it comes to prescribing medication. If they pick the wrong medication or prescribe the wrong does, it could result in patient harm. However, failing to prescribe any medication at all could lead to speculation that a doctor isn't meeting a patient's needs either. In either scenario, a doctor could face a malpractice lawsuit.
Patients in Colorado may be worried about their own future operations after learning about a case when a woman lost her healthy kidney because a surgeon mistook it for a cancerous tumor. During what was scheduled to be a routine back surgery in April 2016, the 51-year-old woman checked into a local hospital. She was seeking a fusion of bones in her lower back after she had been injured in a car accident. However, when she went into surgery, the physician performing the operation identified her kidney and proclaimed it to be a tumor, declaring the situation an emergency and removing it immediately.