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Preventing future medical misdiagnoses

Although the rates of some diagnostic errors have shrunk over the past few decades, the categories of missed diagnoses remain consistent; cardiovascular diseases, cancers and infectious diseases experience the highest rates of misdiagnosis. A diagnosis of a medical condition that is overlooked, incorrect or otherwise delayed can lead to harmful or ineffective treatment. In severe cases, a misdiagnosis of a patient can lead to permanent damage or death.

Data on misdiagnoses is drawn primarily from autopsy reports and malpractice cases filed. Autopsies reportedly reveal that common diagnoses of myocardial infarction, pulmonary embolism and bowel perforation are often misdiagnosed. Limited information is available from physicians' self-reports, as professionals are hesitant to bring attention to their mistakes. A recent study of physician-reported errors from hospitals in California and nationwide identified the five most common misdiagnoses to be pulmonary embolism, drug reaction, lung and colorectal cancers and acute coronary syndrome.

Legal liability is not always apparent or automatically assigned to a party. When hospitals are involved, the relationship between the hospital and the physician or other provider who misdiagnosed the condition must be identified to determine full negligence.

When a misdiagnosis is discovered, the patient or their family may wish to consult with an attorney who might help answer questions about liability and suggest possible action to take in recourse. In medical malpractice cases that occur in a hospital setting, an attorney can sort through the complexities involved in identifying the degree of hospital negligence for a physician's failure to diagnose the correct condition.

Source: Med Page Today, "Misdiagnosis: Can It Be Remedied?", Joyce Frieden, August 17, 2014

Source: Med Page Today, "Misdiagnosis: Can It Be Remedied?", Joyce Frieden, August 17, 2014

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