How common is medical misdiagnosis?

When you suffer from the symptoms of a condition and visit an emergency room or outpatient clinic seeking answers, you may be given an inaccurate diagnosis. Physicians who treat patients in these types of environments misdiagnose or fail to diagnose patients more often that you may think. When you receive the wrong diagnosis from a trusted medical professional, your actual condition may worsen. Furthermore, you may be given medication, undergo procedures or receive treatments for a condition that you don’t even have. Not only is this a waste of time, but all this unnecessary medical treatment can lead to excessive medical expenses, pain and trauma.

A study published in BMJ Quality & Safety reported that approximately one in 20 adult patients who visit an outpatient clinic or ER in the U.S. are given the wrong diagnosis. That calculates to 12 million patients each year. Of those medical errors, at least half are potentially harmful to patients. These numbers are thought to be underrepresented, as doctors may try to hide the fact that they are responsible for these medical errors. Furthermore, some patients may not know that they have been misdiagnosed in the first place.

According to the National Center for Policy Analysis, 90 percent of diagnostic errors involve physician negligence. This may involve a rushed doctor who has limited time to spend with each patient, and is unable to provide an accurate diagnosis. Doctors who misread screening tests may also be to blame. Furthermore, physicians who treat patients in emergency rooms and outpatient clinics may not have a complete patient medical history. This may cause difficulties when trying to diagnose a condition.

This information is intended to educate and should not be taken as legal advice.

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