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Wednesday
Apr242013

Diagnostic Errors Cost More Than $38 Billion

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Malpractice lawsuits have dramatically driven up medical fees for Americans. But you may be surprised by just what errors are costing patients so much.  

Researchers at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine who studied 25 years of payouts for malpractice claims found diagnostic errors to be the most costly, accounting for almost 30 percent of claims and 35 percent of payouts, which total a whopping $38.8 billion.
 
A diagnostic error is a diagnosis that is wrong, delayed or, the most common among these errors, it's missed entirely. The study findings showed diagnostic errors resulted in death or disability almost twice as often as surgical, obstetrical or medication errors.
 
Furthermore, they found that higher payouts were due to claims for brain damage or permanent paralysis (average $808,591), compared to death (average $390,186).

Researchers estimate diagnostic errors cause between 80,000 and 160,000 permanent injuries or deaths each year in the U.S.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio