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Diagnosis errors found in large percentage of studied cases

When a person seeks the help of a physician, they expect the best care, and doctors have taken an oath to provide the appropriate treatment for each individual situation. This is especially important in cases where time is of the essence, and receiving the proper treatment in a timely manner can mean the difference between life and death for a patient. If the patient suffers from a misdiagnosed cancer and the problem is not discovered quickly, the disfigured cells are then allowed to grow and spread throughout the body until it may be impossible to save the person.

A recent study found that misdiagnoses often lead to death or severe disability, and happen in 10 to 20 percent of cases. Although other medical errors are more prevalent and sensational, these numbers show that a misdiagnosis is far more common than any other medical error.

The most common reasons for a misdiagnosis are negligence and a flawed way of thinking on the part of the doctor. Experts feel the problem has not been addressed because of lack of information, although studies dating back to 1991 show that misdiagnosis has been a problem for a long time in the health care history of the country.

Since most diagnostic errors occur in a primary care setting, cancer may be misdiagnosed more often than other diseases. Statistics and promises to fix the problem do little to comfort a family who is grieving a loved one, but they may find a little relief if the doctor or other health professional is found to be responsible for the misdiagnosis, and they receive money to help cover exorbitant medical bills.

Source: The Record, “Misdiagnosis more common than drug errors or wrong-site surgery,” Sandra G. Boodman, June 6, 2013

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