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Study shows the dangers of Newton misdiagnosis


One of the worst things that can happen when a person in Newton goes to the doctor for treatment is to be subject to a misdiagnosis or a failure to timely diagnose. According to a recent study, these issues happen far too frequently. While in many instances, no damage is done because of these mistakes, there are times when it can lead to a person becoming more ill, suffering from the spread of disease and perhaps dying when it was not necessary.

The study showed that at least one adult out of 20 in the United States who was being given treatment on an outpatient basis was subject to misdiagnosis. That is approximately 12 million people each year. Half of these mistakes can be damaging. The study involved several doctors and their findings were published in April of 2014. Medical errors are defined differently, so the researchers used three studies that had definitions that were deemed similar.

Two utilized "triggers" to find patients who had visited their doctor and returned unexpectedly after having seen their regular treating doctors. It also looked at patients who did not have follow-up visits with their doctors in spite of warning signs for diseases such as colorectal cancer. The third conducted an analysis that looked at instances of lung cancer. Chest X-rays that were viewed as abnormal were considered red flags. Chart reviews confirmed the instances of misdiagnosis. The primary care study rate of errors was over five percent. This was in comparison to 0.007 percent in the study looking into colorectal cancer. In the lung cancer study, it was 0.013 percent.

Considering the risks for people who are victims of misdiagnosis or failure to timely diagnose and that they face the spread of disease because of it, it is important that they are aware of the potential for long-term damage. In some instances, misdiagnosed cancer can lead to a fatality that did not have to happen. People who have grown ill after a misdiagnosis or have lost a loved one have the right to consider litigation to be compensated for their loss. Seeking legal assistance is the first step.

Source: Medscape.com, "Misdiagnoses All Too Common: 1 in 20 US Adult Patients," Diedtra Henderson, Apr. 22, 2014

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