Misdiagnosis Happens to 12 million Americans Each Year, Study Says

Misdiagnosis is a serious problem in the United States, affecting as many as one out of every 20 patients, according to a study recently published in BMJ Quality & Safety, a professional medical journal. This number is equal to roughly 12 million incidents, and half of these have the potential to be fatal. Based on data from earlier studies and information gathered in primary care settings, researchers estimate that, of the errors occurring in intensive care units alone, roughly 40,500 cause unnecessary deaths.

While drug and surgical mistakes garner a great deal of media attention, diagnostic errors are a much more prevalent problem. The National Center for Policy Analysis states that misdiagnoses account for approximately 10 to 20 percent of all medical mistakes. In spite of the pervasiveness of this problem, medical malpractice lawyers Chicago are often not contacted to seek reparation from the medical professionals who are responsible for the potentially life-threatening errors.

Causes of misdiagnosis

According to a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association Internal Medicine, the blame for many of the wrong conclusions drawn by doctors falls to the rushed nature of today’s doctor appointments. Physicians often do not take the time to visit with patients and discover all of the symptoms, leading to faulty assumptions based on incomplete information.

Misdiagnosis often occurs during the prescribing, performing and reading the results of a medical test. A lack of knowledge or a faulty approach may also cause the doctor error. Serious health issues may be missed that would be treatable if discovered in a timely manner. Medical malpractice lawyers in Chicago understand that missed or false diagnoses can cause lengthier, more expensive treatments, permanent disabilities and even fatalities.

Incomplete data

A shortage of accurate data arises from the lack of discovery and reporting procedures. Health care providers may never learn of their mistakes because problems do not become known until much later, or patients seek a second opinion and never inform the first doctor of the outcome. Although most doctors believe that missed diagnoses are serious issues, few admit that they could be contributing to the growing problem. Researchers believe that doctors may avoid reporting errors when they are aware of them.

Health care professionals who are at fault should be held responsible for the damages caused by their mistakes. Even when the outcome of a misdiagnosis does not result in a permanent disability or a fatality, health issues can lead to higher medical bills and unnecessary pain and suffering. Victims should seek advice from medical malpractice lawyers in Chicago who may be able to help recover financial assistance to cover the damages caused.