Denver residents who visit the doctor with a new medical condition may not be receiving the correct diagnosis for their problem every time. Based on the results of a study published in JAMA Internal Medicine, diagnostic errors occur in 10 to 15 percent of doctor's visits about a new condition. Misdiagnosis may not seem like a major issue, but in some cases, it can be as harmful as a surgical mistake. A misdiagnosis can lead to people getting no treatment or the wrong treatment, enabling their condition to worsen over time.
These errors occur twice as frequently in doctor's offices as they do in hospitals, but the damage to the patient can be more severe in a hospital since patients tend to be in worse health. According to a report that was in the BMJ Quality and Safety in Health Care, every year 160,000 patients suffer permanent injury or die as a result of an incorrect or delayed diagnosis. Another troubling fact is that diagnostic errors are in relation to very common illnesses. The most frequently missed conditions include pneumonia, urinary-tract infections, cancer, renal failure and heart failure.
There are a variety of reasons that a doctor may not correctly identify a medical condition, including making incorrect assumptions about the patient, being given inaccurate or incomplete information and receiving incorrect test result data. To help prevent these issues from occurring, patients are urged to provide complete information about their medical history and symptoms and to seek a second opinion if necessary.
People should be able to rely on doctors to accurately diagnose and treat their conditions. If someone has suffered due to a misdiagnosis, a lawyer could explain their rights and options for legal recourse.
Source: Consumer Reports, "Mistakes even good doctors make", October 31, 2013