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Research shows millions of outpatients are misdiagnosed

Many Colorado residents go to their doctor when they feel that something is off. However, what they may not know is if they receive treatment without being first admitted to a hospital that there is at least a 5 percent chance that their condition has been misdiagnosed. According to a recent report, it is believed that at least 1 in 20 adults who visit an outpatient clinic is misdiagnosed. When looking at the bigger picture, this means that approximately 12 million people are misdiagnosed annually.

Researchers at the Michael E. DeBakey Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Houston, Texas, conducted a study using medical records associated with outpatient misdiagnosis rates among lung cancer and colon cancer patients. They discovered that approximately half of the misdiagnosed symptoms, which included clear symptoms that were either missed by the physician or not followed up on, were potentially harmful to the patient's health.

The head researcher stated that this is because there are certain challenges inherent in the outpatient model. For example, patients often do not reuse the same facility and team of specialists and radiologists. Another problem is that, because the physician does not have a medical history of the patient, breakdowns often occur when the physician is trying to determine the patient's symptoms versus the treatment that they have already had.

Patients who seek medical care from a physician deserve to have the best care possible. However, if a patient who has taken an active role in their treatment has a disease or illness that is misdiagnosed and this misdiagnosis causes them to suffer from harm, they may be able to file a medical malpractice lawsuit against the physician and care facility.

Source: Fox News, "At least 1 in 20 outpatients misdiagnosed every year, study shows", Amanda Woerner, April 17, 2014

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