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Study finds six million people harmed each year by misdiagnoses

A new study has found that 12 million people are misdiagnosed each year in the U.S. Of these, about half are harmed.

When you are suffering from an ailment and need to visit a clinic, you expect the doctor to get the diagnosis right. Unfortunately, a new study indicates that many people visiting outpatient clinics are leaving with the wrong diagnosis, which can seriously jeopardize their health.

The study, conducted by the Baylor College of Medicine and the Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center, found that 12 million adults each year are misdiagnosed in outpatient settings, which include both outpatient clinics and visits to doctors’ offices. The study, recently published in BMJ Quality and Safety, also found that among patients that are misdiagnosed, about half, or six million, are harmed because of the failure to determine the correct medical condition.

The study estimated the rate of diagnostic error by analyzing data from three previous studies on misdiagnoses, creating a database of about 3,000 patient records in the process. Of the 3,000, they found that about five percent of the patients were misdiagnosed. Extrapolating this conclusion to the U.S. population that seeks medical treatment in clinics each year, the researchers found that about 12 million people are misdiagnosed annually.

Any time that a patient is misdiagnosed, there are potentially serious consequences. In the case of a cancer misdiagnosis, the delay caused by the error can cause the cancer to spread and become harder to treat. In many inst ances, this delay can mean the difference between life and death. Even if the misdiagnosed condition is not serious, the error can lead to the wrong treatment being prescribed, which can also cause injury.

Unfortunately, diagnostic errors often do not receive the attention that they deserve in the medical community. According to a 2013 study by Johns Hopkins University, over a quarter of medical malpractice claims involve the misdiagnosis of a condition. Despite this fact, experts say that diagnostic errors do not receive the same attention in the medical establishment as mistakes that are more immediately obvious such as surgical errors.

An attorney can help

If you have suffered harm because of a physician’s failure to identify the correct medical condition, it is important to consult with an experienced medical malpractice attorney. Under the law, physicians must use a certain minimum of skill and knowledge when arriving at a diagnosis. If the physician fails to achieve this minimum, he or she may be held liable for malpractice.

An attorney can review your medical records and circumstances surrounding your treatment. If it is determined that malpractice has occurred, an attorney can advise you further on your right to seek compensation.

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