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Misdiagnosis a larger issue than surgical errors

Misdiagnosis a larger issue than surgical errors

Illinois residents may worry about a doctor making a mistake if they go into a hospital for surgery, but their biggest source of risk is actually that a doctor has misdiagnosed them. Misdiagnosis does not receive as much attention from the press or the medical community as wrong site surgery and medication errors, but late or wrong diagnoses are far more common. It is estimated that misdiagnosis due to medical negligence or wrong thinking may occur in between 10 and 20 percent of cases.

The potential impact of a late or wrong diagnosis can be enormous. According to data from a 2009 report done by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, 28 percent of anonymously reported diagnostic errors were life-threatening, caused someone’s death or resulted in permanent disability. Based on a recent report from BMJ Quality & Safety, the number of diagnostic errors that cause fatalities in intensive care units in the United States equals the same number of annual deaths from breast cancer.

What’s even more alarming is the fact that many common diseases are misdiagnosed, and diagnostic errors occur most often in primary-care settings. It is not only rare diseases that are incorrectly diagnosed; common ailments, such as pneumonia and urinary tract infections, can also be misdiagnosed. Negligence is also a huge part of diagnostic errors: According to a 1991 Harvard Medical Practice Study, 75 percent of errors leading to a misdiagnosis were related to negligence.

For an individual to receive needed care and treatment as quickly as possible, a doctor needs to accurately identify their medical condition in a timely manner. A lawyer may be able to help someone who has been misdiagnosed pursue compensation for medical bills and other expenses.

Source: The Record, “Misdiagnosis more common than drug errors or wrong-site surgery“, Sandra G. Boodman, June 06, 2013

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