Caroselli, Beachler & Coleman, L.L.C.

Medical misdiagnosis is more common than you may think

Upon checking in to a hospital or clinic, what if the receptionist told you that there was a one in 20 chance that you would be misdiagnosed? You would probably chuckle, assuming that the receptionist was kidding.

However, according to a new study, that grim statistic is real. The study reports that about 12 million adults seeking outpatient medical care are misdiagnosed each year in Pennsylvania and the rest of the United States, which adds up to about one out of every 20 patients.

Additionally, in about half of the cases the medical misdiagnosis has the potential to cause severe harm, the researchers concluded in the study, which was published in the journal BMJ Quality & Safety.

Ultimately, a misdiagnosis or a delay in diagnosis means that instead of getting the treatment a patient needs, valuable time is lost. If the condition is serious enough, this lost time could result in the condition getting progressively worse or even result in death.

In order to help prevent yourself from becoming a victim of misdiagnosis next time you visit a hospital or clinic, keep the following tips from the CBS News chief medical correspondent in mind:

  1. Use a clear, chronological method when explaining your medical history to the doctor.
  2. Include details about your family’s medical history as potential clues for the doctor to use, including whether close family members have had cancer or other serious conditions.
  3. Follow up if you don’t hear from the hospital or clinic regarding test results to make sure that your results were not misplaced or overlooked.

Finally, if it is too late and you or a loved one has already been the victim of medical misdiagnosis and it caused harm, talk to a medical malpractice lawyer in your area about whether you may be entitled to damages.

Source: CBS News, “12 Million Americans misdiagnosed each year,” Jessica Firger, April 17, 2014

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