A new Wall Street Journal report shows malpractice lawsuits help medical professionals prevent costly future mistakes.

According to Tuesday's WJS article, "What Doctor's Missed," doctors are studying medical negligence cases to analyze breakdowns in patient care that have led to missed, delayed, or incorrect diagnoses. Many health care professionals have added additional safeguards and implemented new procedures, including electronic follow-up alerts, to ensure that each patient's complaint is fully explored.

Robert Hanscom, vice president of loss prevention and patient safety for malpractice insurer Crico/RMF, said malpractice claims represent only a fraction of all medical cases, but "they are reflective of deeply rooted problems that are much more widespread in health care."

Diagnostic errors are the leading cause of malpractice suits, and a recent study shows that they account for 40,000 to 80,000 patient deaths a year.


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