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Proper diagnosis is vital for timely and effective treatment

Thousands of people across the country die each year due to preventable medical mistakes. Misdiagnoses cause a significant portion of these errors.

Many serious illnesses, ranging from bacterial infections to cancer, require a prompt and accurate diagnosis so doctors can prescribe the proper treatment. If a patient is given the wrong treatment or if a medical condition is missed entirely, the results can be deadly. Unfortunately for thousands of patients in Pennsylvania and across the country, this type of scenario happens all too often.

Health Care IT News points out that preventable medical mistakes result in 400,000 deaths every year and are the third cause of death in the country. Every day, an additional 10,000 serious complications result from medical errors. Many of these mistakes include a missed or delayed diagnosis of a serious condition.

Study shows misdiagnoses are disturbingly common

In a recent study, reports Everyday Health, it was discovered that up to 12 million patients in America may be affected by diagnostic mistakes, a number equaling one out of every 20 adults. Out of these diagnostic errors, half may have potentially harmful consequences. Patients who are commonly misdiagnosed or dismissed as having nothing wrong with them may often be suffering from such conditions as cancer, stroke, heart attack, Lyme disease or fibromyalgia. Patient advocates claim that thyroid problems, depression and aortic abnormalities are also frequently missed or wrongly diagnosed.

It is crucial for serious illnesses to be accurately diagnosed as soon as possible. According to the Wall Street Journal, delayed or missed diagnoses often occur for the following reasons:

· A patient examination may have been rushed or incomplete.

· Test results may have been wrongly interpreted.

· Patient files or test results might have been misplaced.

· Inconsistent lab procedures might result in a medical condition's signs being ignored or missed.

· Physicians might dismiss a patient's complaints as being "all in their head," particularly with mental illness or a less understood condition like fibromyalgia.

Doctors are also known to be rushed and fatigued. Also, it is possible that physicians may fail to communicate their findings with each other if a patient seeks a second opinion, sees a specialist or is admitted to the hospital.

Many illnesses may resolve themselves on their own if a doctor fails to catch them. Unfortunately, this rarely happens for serious conditions. If a patient is not given the right medication or therapy, recovery can take months or years longer, or a patient may pass the period of time during which recovery is possible. It may be necessary to speak with an experienced medical malpractice attorney if a doctor makes a serious mistake.

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