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Outpatient clinics may likely incur misdiagnosis, study says


Many people in New Haven, Connecticut, rely on their doctors and other healthcare providers when it comes to their medical needs. Unfortunately, medical errors can occur anywhere between diagnosis and treatment, which can result in serious repercussions to patients and their families.

One of the most common causes of medical malpractice claims is failure to diagnose. Readers should be concerned. The journal BMJ Quality and Safety recently published a study that found that one out of every 20 adult patients in outpatient clinics suffered a misdiagnosis, translating to 12 million erroneous diagnoses per year. Unfortunately, according to statistics from the Society to Improve Diagnosis in Medicine, as many as 80,000 people die in the United States because of misdiagnosis.

Several factors can lead to misdiagnosis. Decision-making and uncertainties can cause doctors to make wrong judgments when diagnosing their patients. Misdiagnosis can also occur when doctors fail to tell their patients all the information they need, including follow-ups and what they need to do.

Doctors and patients can prevent misdiagnosis by working together. Patients, for one, can create a list of their symptoms and any existing medical conditions.

Although not all misdiagnosis end in a devastating outcome, medical errors can have repercussions. Erroneous diagnosis can result in a worsened medical condition, longer hospital stay and higher medical expenses. Unfortunately, when a medical condition goes undetected, it can lead to a patient's death. Additionally, injuries or deaths can cause lost wages and future income accompanied by profound emotional pain and suffering.

A misdiagnosed patient may be able to file a personal injury lawsuit against a negligent hospital or medical staff and seek compensation. If the patient dies, the victim's family may be able to file a wrongful death lawsuit.

Source: Healthline, "One in Every 20 Adults Is Misdiagnosed in Outpatient Clinics Every Year," Sandra Levy, April 17, 2014

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