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Millions of Americans Misdiagnosed Every Year


Posted on Apr 18, 2014

Countless Americans receive the wrong diagnosis from their physicians every year. This problem can have dire consequences for some.

CBS news reports on the misdiagnosis problem.

Millions of people are misdiagnosed every year in the United States and experts argue that a new system needs to be put in place to combat this issue.

The problem is especially thriving in outpatient care. “Each year in the U.S., approximately 12 million adults who seek outpatient medical care are misdiagnosed, according to a new study published in the journal BMJ Quality and Safety. This figure amounts to 1 out of 20 adult patients, and researchers say in half of those cases, the misdiagnosis has the potential to result in severe harm,” according to CBS.

Many patients are being misdiagnosed in doctors’ offices and other outpatient clinics.

CBS explains how the study was conducted, “For the paper, the researchers analyzed data from three prior studies related to diagnosis and follow-up visits. One of the studies examined the rates of misdiagnosis in primary care settings, while two of the studies looked at the rates of colorectal and lung cancer screenings and subsequent diagnoses. To estimate the annual frequency of misdiagnosis, the authors used a mathematical formula and applied the proportion of diagnostic errors detected in the data to the number of all outpatients in the U.S. adult population. They calculated the overall annual rate of misdiagnoses to be 5.08 percent.”

Dr. LaPook, CBS chief medical expert, commented on the misdiagnosis issue, “It's very serious. When you have numbers like 12 million Americans, it sounds like a lot -- and it is a lot. It represents about 5 percent of the outpatient encounters. Getting 95 percent right be good on a school history test, he notes, but it's not good enough for medicine, especially when lives are at stake."

The authors of the study explained why it is important to rectify this growing problem, "Although it is unknown how many patients will be harmed from diagnostic errors, our previous work suggests that about one-half of diagnostic errors have the potential to lead to severe harm. While this is only an estimate and does not imply all those affected will actually have harm, this risk potentially translates to about 6 million outpatients per year."

COMMENT:

In a medical malpractice case in NY, the key question that we need to evaluate is:

If your medical condition was timely recognized and treated, how would your treatment and/or your outcome be different?

The answer to that will help determine what damages (Injuries) you suffered as a result of your delay in diagnosis.

 

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