Missed diagnosis all too common medical error

A study was conducted concerning medical mistakes made by physicians. When examining electronic medical records, one of the greatest surprises for researchers was to find the number of instances involving delayed or missed diagnosis.

The most common ailments left undiagnosed included pneumonia, congestive heart failure, renal failure, cancers and urinary tract infections. One doctor estimated that 150,000 people each year either died or suffered severe disabilities due to misdiagnosis by their doctors across the United States.

One conclusion of the study was that the implementing of an electronic records system could not make up for a failure of doctors to conduct a thorough medical exam. Many errors came about during interviews of patients where the patients actually would fail to provide relevant medical information.

Without adequate information in the records, treating doctors are often at a disadvantage in that they cannot always rely upon medical record information. It has been suggested that this problem can be somewhat remedied by patient follow-up, and by better feedback concerning the ability of doctors to diagnose a problem.

Obviously, with the number of patients that suffer adverse effects due to misdiagnosis, patients in Pittsburgh and Pennsylvania will be affected as well. Patients that have questions about an undiagnosed illness may wish to speak to medical malpractice attorneys from their area that can investigate what had occurred.

Without consequences for physicians and medical facilities, the problem will simply continue. Incentives need to be put in place for better information gathering practices to be conducted by medical staff.

Source: Physicians News, “Medical Mistakes Common: Breakdown in Doctor, Patient Exams,” by Brad Broker, Feb. 26, 2013