When you go to the doctor's office, you expect your doctor to pay attention to your symptoms and properly diagnose any medical conditions or complications you may have. Getting a diagnosis is the first step in getting better because you need a diagnosis to receive any medical treatment or care.
Unfortunately, a new study found that many patients are misdiagnosed every year. Misdiagnoses can be very harmful to patients, especially if a doctor fails to diagnose cancer or a medical condition that could lead to serious complications or death. Just how many patients are affected by misdiagnosis in the United States? The study found that 12 million patients are misdiagnosed every year and half of these errors can cause serious health issues for patients.
The researchers looked at medical records from visits to doctor's offices to see how many patients are misdiagnosed. They also looked at lung cancer and colon cancer patients to see how often doctors failed to follow up with patients after tests showed potential "red flags."
Based on their research, they said that roughly 5 percent of adult patients are misdiagnosed each year. This is a serious patient safety issue. If a patient has cancer but is misdiagnosed, he or she will not receive the necessary treatment to prevent the cancer from spreading. Even if the patient is correctly diagnosed later, he or she may have lost valuable time to fight the cancer and could suffer from serious complications that could lead to his or her death.
The same goes for many other medical conditions that are misdiagnosed. Patients need to be diagnosed as soon as possible to start any treatment that can help prevent any further spread of the disease and to prevent complications. When patients are misdiagnosed, their life may be at risk and any complications they suffer could have been prevented.
Patients in Arizona should be aware of the risk of misdiagnosis when they go to the doctor. Patients who have suffered complications due to a diagnostic error may be able to file a lawsuit against their doctor for medical negligence but every case is unique so it is best to consult a medical malpractice attorney for specific advice.
Source: Live Science, "12 Million Misdiagnoses Occur Yearly in US, Study Finds," Rachael Rettner, April 16, 2014