Misdiagnosis: A common occurrence?

Sunday October 14, 2018

Millions of people in Connecticut and across the United States put their trust in the medical professionals who take care of them in emergency rooms and in outpatient settings. When people are sick or have suffered an injury, they rely on physicians, surgeons and nurses to use their medical expertise to diagnose their problem and customize a treatment plan. People may be surprised to learn, however, that medical professionals make mistakes, and may fail to diagnose an ailment or could provide the wrong diagnosis altogether.

According to a study published in BMJ Quality & Safety, one out of 20, or 12 million adults, who are seen in outpatient or emergency room settings are misdiagnosed. At least half of those patients were harmed because of the wrong diagnosis. Researchers found that misdiagnosis was often the result of miscommunication. Physicians in these settings may not have a comprehensive medical history of the patient. Doctors may order the wrong screenings or tests or may misread the results of the tests. Doctors are often rushed to see a number of patients in a short amount of time and may not spend ample time with each patient. Some cases of misdiagnosis are pure medical negligence.

A misdiagnosis can result in patients undergoing unnecessary treatment for a condition they do not have. They may take medication or even have a procedure that they did not really need. In some cases, the false diagnosis may lead to another medical problem or the original problem may worsen while the patient is undergoing the wrong treatment.

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