What Are The Diagnoses Associated With The Highest Malpractice Risk?

by | Published on Jun 8, 2022 | Medical Malpractice

According to a 1999 report from the Physician Insurers Association of America (PIAA), errors in diagnosis are the core reason for medical malpractice lawsuits. The lawsuit prevalence involving diagnostic errors in the descending order are myocardial infarction, breast cancer, appendicitis, lung cancer, and colon cancer. In such demanding cases, the medical facts relevant to the case have to be analyzed by attorneys to prepare for the trial.

A medical records review company can help attorneys build the case to prove whether there was negligence from the physician in rendering proper care to the patient. Before delving into diagnoses associated with medical malpractice, we can look at the legal elements that are essential for winning the case.

The Four Legal Elements a Plaintiff Has To Prove To Win a Medical Malpractice Case

  1. Proving the existence of a doctor-patient relationship
    The plaintiff has to establish that there was a doctor-patient relationship. Before the eyes of the law, proving the doctor-patient relationship implies that it is the physician’s professional duty to deliver competent care by complying with the standard of care. This element of medical malpractice is difficult to be challenged by the defense.
  2. Medical standard of care
    It looks at whether the doctor or other professional who delivered care to the plaintiff provided the treatment that would have been given by a similarly trained healthcare professional. It is a crucial element in any medical malpractice case. In most medical malpractice cases, expert medical witnesses are required to testify about the competency of the negligent physician by comparing the treatment delivered with that of a reasonably skilled provider in the same circumstances.
  3. Establish that medical malpractice deteriorated the medical condition of the patient
    The plaintiff has to prove that the erroneous diagnosis led to the worsening of his/her health condition. The most important component to prove here is that suffering and pain the plaintiff endured was due to worsening health conditions and not due to any other cause.
  4. Quantifiable data on proof of damage
    The plaintiff has to produce details of the actual damages suffered due to the error in the diagnosis of the medical condition. The quantifiable data about the damages are computed by calculating the additional medical treatment and the loss of income due to the inability of the plaintiff to work. This enables medical malpractice attorneys to recover compensation for both physical and mental suffering caused due to erroneous diagnoses.
  5. Diagnostic errors

    According to a 1999 report from the Physician Insurers Association of America, there are five types of cases that commonly result in medical malpractice lawsuits. With reference to aafp.org, seventy percent of all malpractice cases against primary care physicians in the United States fall in the below given five categories.

    Lung Cancer

    Medical malpractice for lung cancer in most cases can be attributed to a delay in diagnosis of the condition. Oftentimes, the plaintiff would be a young patient whose recurrent coughing may be wrongly diagnosed as bronchitis. Even the chest X-ray of the plaintiff may not have been received. In such circumstances, the standard of care to rule out lung cancer is to do invasive testing techniques such as bronchoscopy or a CT scan.  Plain chest X-rays can’t conclusively identify malignant mass in the early stage of cancer.

    Breast cancer

    In breast cancer too, delay in diagnosing is the basis for medical malpractice lawsuits. Women mostly report delayed breast cancer diagnoses under age 50. The plaintiff receives false-negative results from screening mammograms. Some might not even have received diagnostic mammograms.


    The main symptom of appendicitis is nondescript abdominal pain. Physicians sometimes associate this with gastroenteritis. The health condition of the plaintiff exacerbates as they miss the follow-up. In such a scenario, physicians are required to establish a plan for follow-up by talking about the risks of appendicitis and accurately documenting the symptoms.

    Colon Cancer

    In medical malpractice cases, delayed diagnosis is cited as the main reason as it is common for hematochezia to be attributed to hemorrhoids. There are certain instances wherein the patient has both hemorrhoids and cancer at the same time. Therefore, if the physician documents hemorrhoids on an anoscopy, a colonoscopy is still needed for high-risk patients. The physicians are required to discuss with the patients the possibility of colon cancer and structure a follow-up plan if the symptoms don’t resolve on their own.

    Heart Conditions

    Around 50% of all the lawsuits that involve emergency medicine are related to heart conditions. In most cases, younger patients with negative past histories are misdiagnosed and they are likely to file lawsuits for missed myocardial infarction.

    Why Utilize Outsourced Medical Record Review Services?

    Validity of claims has penultimate importance in determining the outcome of medical malpractice lawsuits. Medical claims review services can ensure that relevant plaintiff data in the medical records are easily comprehendible.

Discover our medical record review solutions and partner with us for your next case.

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