Though certain medical conditions may make many Massachusetts residents fearful, the fact that experienced, educated doctors populate our cities and towns should put them at ease. Unfortunately, all too often doctors make mistakes that can cause serious personal injury or death. A new report shows where doctors are falling short, and how devastating it can be for patients.

The study, published in BMJ Open, examined more than 7,000 journal papers on medical malpractice claims. The results are staggering. The most common reason for a medical malpractice lawsuit was missed diagnoses which accounted for 26 to 63 percent of all claims. The most common conditions linked to a failure to diagnose were cancer and heart attack. Perhaps most concerning is that amongst all missed diagnoses, 15 to 48 percent of cases resulted in death.

When an individual is victimized by Medical malpractice, the results can be tragic. A worsened medical condition may develop that requires expensive and painful long-term care, disability may leave a victim incapacitated, and death may tear families apart. Recovering from these harms can take months or even years. Sometimes, the victim is left with a life-long injury that she must live with forever. Recovery and coping can be expensive, painful, and emotionally trying in a time when working may be impossible. Luckily, legal action can be taken to help remedy the situation.

A medical malpractice lawsuit may result in the victim obtaining compensation if several elements can be proven. A victim must establish the doctor owed him a duty of care, breached his standard of care, and the victim’s injuries resulted from the breach. Then, the victim may obtain awards to cover medical expenses, pain and suffering, and lost wages. This compensation will allow the victim to focus on getting his life back while at the same time punishing doctors for preventable negligence. Hopefully then, the next study will show a decrease in missed diagnoses.

Source: CBS News, “Most common medical malpractice claims for missed cancer, heart attack,” Ryan Jaslow, Jul. 19, 2013