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Study into failure to diagnose and misdiagnoses seeks solutions


For patients in Newton who are confronted with a mistaken diagnosis or a failure to diagnose, there can be many negative implications. The problem of misdiagnosis is often pushed off to the side. The reality is that between 5 and 15 percent of medical diagnoses turn out to be wrong. However, not much is being done to deal with it, because it's difficult to know exactly how many cases of misdiagnoses there are and what to do about it.

A report regarding misdiagnosis written by the U.S. Institute of Medicine is looking into the issue. The same institute had examined other errors in 1999 and came to the conclusion that nearly 100,000 people died on an annual basis because of medical mistakes. The report is an attempt to identify why misdiagnoses occur and what can be done to reduce the incidence of them. In some instances, patients are lucky because the misdiagnosis is not of a potentially fatal issue. Ironically, the treatment that is given for the wrong condition sometimes works to alleviate the right condition.

This does not eliminate the problem of a failure to diagnose, delayed treatment, worsened condition and the spread of disease. One study reported that the third most common reason one medical liability company received for claims is a misdiagnosis, and it resulted in payouts to patients that surpassed $47 million. Some of the mistakes come from equipment in hospitals, but others are due to a doctor simply not realizing what he or she is looking at or failing to consider that an initial diagnosis might have been wrong.

The recent misdiagnoses of people who were suffering from Ebola in several states across the U.S. brought to light the dangers of doctors who not only get the diagnosis wrong, but are completely unaware of what the symptoms are indicating and how dangerous it can be. Research into a failure to diagnose and a concrete determination as to why it happened can certainly help medical professionals and patients to have an idea as to what to look for and the questions to ask. If there is a misdiagnosis, those who were harmed by it could suffer long-term damage and even death. Those who believe they have been harmed by a misdiagnosis should weigh their options for compensation.

Source: medicalxpress.com, "When doctors get it wrong: Misdiagnoses are getting a closer look," Jeremy Olson, Sept. 4, 2015

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