A new study published in the
BMJ Quality and Safety Journal found that 5% of adults seeking outpatient care are misdiagnosed—equaling
roughly 12 million people. The risk of being misdiagnosed can be deadly.
When a patient with
cancer or other serious illnesses doesn’t receive appropriate medical treatment
due to a misdiagnosis, the results could be fatal. In fact, it is estimated
that 40,000 to 80,000 deaths a year occur directly from misdiagnosis.
In the past, studies on
medical malpractice have focused on hospital settings. This study is the first to focus on
outpatient settings, which have increased in popularity in recent years.
Misdiagnosis in those settings affects everyone and threatens each one
of us who ever goes to a doctor for treatment.
Misdiagnosis from cancer to pneumonia can have fatal consequences. Take
the death of John Ritter for example. In 2003, the actor was misdiagnosed
two times with heartburn and other similar conditions before he died suddenly
from aortic dissection. Other common conditions that are misdiagnosed
include heart attacks, clogged arteries, infections, and cancer.
Misdiagnosis occurs at an alarmingly rate, making it the leading cause
of medical malpractice in the United States. Overcrowded hospitals and
clinical settings and understaffed units combine to make this problem
even worse. Doctors and clinicians simply don’t have the time to
spend with each patient to review similar symptoms and put the pieces
together. As a result, many patients are sent home with the wrong diagnosis—and
the wrong medications.
Patients can help protect themselves by being assertive and describing
their symptoms accurately. If a doctor doesn’t seem to have time
to spend with you, consider getting a second and third opinion—especially
if the symptoms are severe or are not improving.
Delays in treatment could be the difference between life and death. If you or someone you
love has been harmed due to a misdiagnosis, you need a law firm on your
side; contact a Fort Lauderdale medical malpractice attorney at Kelley/Uustal.