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Understanding misdiagnosis issues in the health care system

Understanding misdiagnosis issues in the health care system

Date: August 22, 2014

A patient going through treatment in an Illinois health facility may be concerned if a misdiagnosis results in the worsening of a condition or in a medical event that might have been prevented. Some of the most common doctor errors are those involving misdiagnosis. Although efforts are made to reduce diagnostic errors, little improvement has occurred in the rates of such errors.

Some of the more common diagnostic errors occur in connection with infections, cancer and cardiovascular health. Pulmonary embolism was found to be the largest category of missed diagnoses in a 2008 study. Additional cardiovascular issues commonly missed include coronary artery disease and ruptured aneurysms. Neoplasms and tuberculosis were also included in the same study as issues that are often missed. According to the study, a discrepancy rate of more than 17 percent existed in the major cause of death in autopsies evaluated.

Doctor-reported errors place drug-related incidents and pulmonary embolism at the forefront of diagnostic problems. However, experts note that statistics may be affected based on the specialties of those reporting their errors. Additionally, there may be limits to reporting by doctors due to the medical malpractice issues. In some areas, incidents of misdiagnosis have decreased as access to tools or preventive care have increased. For example, pregnancy tests have become more readily available, and the incidence of misdiagnosed ectopic pregnancy has declined. Vaccines may have resulted in reduced occurrences of childhood meningitis, leading to lower levels of misdiagnosis of the disease.

An individual who may have experienced a more serious condition as a result of a misdiagnosis may wonder whether a medical malpractice suit is warranted. It may be helpful to meet with a lawyer who is experienced in this field to evaluate the details of the situation and to explore options. A lawyer may begin by requesting appropriate medical records and working with a medical expert to evaluate areas in which a physician may have been negligent.

Source: Med Page Today, “Misdiagnosis: Can It Be Remedied?“, Joyce Frieden, August 15, 2014

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