Medical Diagnosis Errors in Alaska: What You Need to Know


Though a patient’s worst fear in seeking medical care might be the surgeon operating on the wrong body part or other surgical errors, the fact is that the majority of medical mistakes involve misdiagnosis. The National Academy of Medicine defines two scenarios for diagnosis errors:

  • Failure to detect an accurate, prompt explanation of a patient’s ailment; and,
  • Failure to sufficiently communicate this explanation to the patient upon discovery.


Regardless of the specifics, there may be life-threatening, permanent bodily harm for the patient. Fortunately, you do have rights if you were injured due to a diagnosis error, and an Alaska medical malpractice lawyer can assist you in enforcing them. An overview of some key statistics and facts can shed some light on the severity of the problem.


The Most Common Form of Medical Malpractice is Misdiagnosis

Researchers have determined that around 12 million patients in the US are victims of diagnosis mistakes every year, making this type of error the number one basis for medical malpractice claims. Some evidence also indicates that misdiagnosis causes more adverse events than all other medical errors, since approximately 10% of all patients are initially diagnosed incorrectly.


In addition, it is estimated that 40,000 to 80,000 patients die due to diagnostic errors in hospitals, and many more in other medical environments. However, researchers believe the true numbers are much higher due to issues with reporting the facts behind adverse events. The main sources of information include autopsy reports, patient complaints, physician self-reporting, and the number of medical malpractice claims filed.


Diagnostic Mistakes Occur Throughout All Medical Specialties

Errors in diagnosis occur most often in certain specialties, including primary care, emergency room settings, and surgical medicine. You might be surprised to learn that these mistakes do not involve rare or unusual medical conditions that are difficult to detect. Instead, health care providers are more likely to improperly diagnose fairly common ailments, including vascular disease, infection, and some forms of cancer. Misdiagnosis of these conditions makes up around 75% of fatalities and disability.


There are Multiple Types of Diagnosis Errors

 These mistakes tend to fall into certain categories, including:

  • Failure to detect any health-related issue, which results in the patient not receiving essential treatment;
  • An erroneous diagnosis, where the patient receives care for a medical condition that does not exist – during which time proper treatment is not provided; and,
  • Delays in delivering an accurate diagnosis, especially for medical conditions that can result in a positive outcome with proper, timely treatment. This is a particular problem when the ailment is cancer, which can become terminal without intervention.


An Alaska Medical Malpractice Attorney can Advise You on Your Rights

If you were hurt or lost a loved one because a health care provider made a diagnosis mistake, you do have legal options to seek monetary damages for your losses. The best strategy for getting the compensation you deserve is retaining an experienced lawyer to represent you, so contact Power & Power Law to discuss your claim. We can set up a free consultation at our office in Anchorage, Alaska.