Article published by : Max Health on Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Category : General Health

Johns Hopkins Study: Misdiagnosis Kills 40,500 ICU Patients Every Year

Intensive care units are designed to house the most critically ill and injured patients. If someone is admitted to the ICU, it is likely because their life is in jeopardy.

So, it comes as no surprise to learn that patients die in intensive care units every day. However, many people would be shocked to learn that approximately 40,500 ICU patients die each year, not because their conditions have progressed to the point where their lives can no longer be saved, but because their doctors failed to spot a hidden life-threatening medical condition.

According to a recent meta-analysis from researchers at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, ICU patients are approximately 50 percent more likely to be the victims of misdiagnosis than the general hospital population. The researchers reviewed 31 different studies dating from 1966 to 2011 in an attempt to determine why ICU patients had died. They found that doctors failed to diagnose a serious condition in 28 percent of ICU patients. In 8 percent of patients, the missed condition was severe enough to have either caused or played a significant role in their death.

Approximately 75 percent of all fatal missed diagnoses were related to vascular problems like heart attacks and strokes. Other common fatal conditions included failure to diagnose pulmonary embolisms, pneumonia and aspergillosis, which is a type of deadly fungal infection.

The researchers hope their findings can be used to develop strategies to improve safety in intensive care units. They recommended some steps hospitals can take, including improving staffing ratios and developing checklists designed to encourage physicians to examine patients for dangerous hidden conditions.

New Jersey Medical Malpractice Lawsuits

All New Jersey hospital patients have a right to expect that their doctors will be proactive in identifying and diagnosing dangerous medical conditions. Given the complex health problems many ICU patients face, it is not unreasonable to expect that they may develop complications or additional medical problems as they attempt to recover.

In some cases, a doctor's failure to diagnose a dangerous or deadly medical condition may form the basis for a medical malpractice lawsuit. Medical malpractice is different from a mere mistake. In order to prove malpractice, a patient must show that the doctor failed to adhere to the standard of care that doctors in similar situations would follow.

Patients who can prove that they were injured as a result of a negligent misdiagnosis may recover a variety of damages, including compensation for medical expenses, lost income and pain and suffering. If a patient dies as a result of a negligent misdiagnosis, their family can sue for wrongful death.

Proving liability in a medical malpractice case is a complex endeavor that requires a significant amount of scientific proof. An experienced malpractice attorney can navigate this often-complicated web to help patients and their families seek justice for the harm that was done to them.

Article provided by Eichen Crutchlow Zaslow & McElroy, LLP
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By: Max Health

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