When patients turn to medical professionals for answers to their medical problems, they often expect these highly trained individuals to use their experience and expertise to find the correct diagnosis. Unfortunately, in many instances, this simply does not occur. CBS News reports that according to a new study, as many as 12 million adults who seek treatment in the US every year are misdiagnosed. That means that as many as 1 out of 20 U.S. adults do not receive the correct diagnosis, and are thus left with improper treatment. Researchers believe that in half of all these cases, the medical misdiagnosis can be enough to cause patients severe harm.
About the study
The study, which can be found in the journal BMJ Quality & Safety, focused on reviewing and analyzing data from three previous studies that examined diagnoses and follow-up visits. One study reviewed the rates of misdiagnosis at primary-care facilities. The other two examined the rates of lung and colorectal cancer screenings and future diagnoses. To determine an accurate estimate of the annual incidence of misdiagnosis across the nation, researchers utilized a mathematical formula and extrapolated the data in the three studies to correlate with all outpatient visits in the U.S. adult population. Their studies found that 5.08 percent of individuals in the nation are misdiagnosed every year.
While 5.08 percent may not seem like a large number, when applied to the entire U.S adult population, the numbers are staggering. If researchers are correct, and half of all of these cases of doctor error have the potential to result in real harm to the patients, that would mean that as many as 6 million Americans are in danger every year of receiving the wrong treatment or failing to receive proper treatment for an illness, many of which could prove fatal.
Potential effects of misdiagnosis
One Peru, Illinois family recently experienced the devastation that can occur firsthand when a doctor failed to correctly diagnose a man’s tumor. The man had a mass growing in his brain, and doctors incorrectly concluded that pathology tests determined that the tumor was benign meningioma, a non-cancerous condition. However, later the next year after his symptoms returned and new doctors discovered that kidney cancer was to blame. This type of cancer usually spreads to other areas of the body before being discovered, and in this man’s case, it had spread to his brain. A review of the previous tests by his new doctors determined that his old doctor had misdiagnosed the original pathology as benign when it was clearly renal cell carcinoma. The man died at the age of 49 just a short time later.
Those who have been the victim of medical malpractice are encouraged to contact a Chicago attorney as soon as possible. These claims can be complicated and should be handled by someone with the knowledge and experience necessary to result in the best possible outcome with the maximum amount of compensation.