A pair of studies released recently further confirm that misdiagnoses are a big reason patients choose to file medical malpractice claims. According to one study of 1,800 medical malpractice claims, 46 percent involved either a missed or delayed diagnosis. Moreover, misdiagnoses accounted for the lion’s share of compensation paid to victims, accounting for 68 percent of such costs.

Sadly, there is a reason why the overall payout for misdiagnoses is so high. The reality is that a mistaken diagnosis, or even an unreasonable delay in making a diagnosis, can spell the difference between a decent chance at recovery and an almost inevitable death. In those medical malpractice cases surveyed, 45 percent of those involving a misdiagnosis ended with the patient’s death.

This study only confirms previous findings that misdiagnosis remains a real problem in the American medical community. Another recent survey examined pediatric medical malpractice cases. It found that of the 1,215 claims examined, 38 percent involved a doctor’s misdiagnosis of a child’s ailment. Other studies also confirm this problem. One study done within the last five years even suggested that, among patients in the hospital, misdiagnosis was the third most common cause of death.

When Kansas City residents go to the doctor, they expect the doctor to give them a prompt and accurate diagnosis of their medical condition and set about arranging for treatment. As these studies show, sometimes doctors fall short of these expectations. When this happens, doctors can be held legally responsible for the damages they cause.