Pennsylvania residents who routinely visit their doctors may find it helpful to learn that approximately five percent of patients are misdiagnosed every year. This statistic comes from a study released earlier this year on the accuracy of correct medical diagnoses being made by health professionals. While this number may seem low, five percent of medical cases equates to 12 million people who are being incorrectly diagnosed and therefore treated for the wrong ailment or not treated at all. These patients could be left in a worsened condition depending on the misdiagnosis.
One may ask why misdiagnosis is getting all this attention recently. Generally, it takes only one tragic incident to trigger closer scrutiny and examination of the medical system. Misdiagnosis can happen to anyone. In one incident about two years ago, a 12-year-old boy succumbed to a streptococcal bacterial infection after medical professionals misdiagnosed his condition. After years of being relegated to the back burner by medical professionals, the numbers are exposing the full extent of the problem. In the meantime, there are things that can be done to help stem the problem.
The most critical weapon to help reduce the chance of misdiagnosis is clear communication. In particular, there must be communication between a patient and their physician or health professional. Patients need to take time in explaining what ails them in a clear and concise fashion so that their doctor can have an accurate approximation of what the problem is and will then be able to figure out the best way to deal with it. Accurate and detailed patient history is also often incomplete.
As more information technologies are implemented, the voluminous amounts of data that a single patient has associated with their file or case history can be better managed. This will allow the physician to make a more informed decision when diagnosing a patient’s ailment. Nevertheless, doctors are human and mistakes do happen. A patient who has suffered harm due to a misdiagnosis may want to consult a Philadelphia misdiagnosis lawyer for more information on the legal options that exist.
Source: The Wall Street Journal, “The Battle Against Misdiagnosis,” Hardeep Singh, August 7, 2014