A recently published medical journal shows that a significant percentage of medical errors occur in places other than surgical wards. Many patients nationwide, including Mississippi, suffer personal injury as the result of misdiagnosis that occurs in doctors’ consulting rooms and emergency departments. In fact, the study showed that more than one-third of legal claims for medical malpractice resulted from delayed or inaccurate diagnosis.

The authors of the study say almost 75% of deadly diseases like infections, cancer and vascular events, which include heart attacks and strokes, arise from missed diagnosis. They noted that misdiagnoses of cancer typically occur in outpatient clinics. Diagnostic errors related to vascular conditions reportedly occurs mostly to patients who are at emergency departments.

Accurate numbers of affected patients are not known, and the article shows that it could involve between 40,000 and 4 million people. The research concluded that initiatives that focus on the improvement of clinical diagnoses are crucial. This is especially true in emergency departments for high-harm diseases like strokes and heart attacks as well as in hospitals to help prevent sepsis and primary care centers for cancer.

The authors remind patients to play active roles in their health care by being assertive when they ask questions and disclosing full details of their medical history, allergies and medications. Patients are entitled to do their own research and seek second opinions if they doubt the initial diagnosis. Those who have suffered personal injury as the result of inaccurate or delayed diagnosis might have grounds to sue the doctor or other responsible parties. This is a complicated field of the law and might be best handled by an experienced Mississippi medical malpractice attorney.