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Primary doctor misdiagnosis and failure to diagnose is a concern

A patient goes to a doctor with the expectation that they will come to an accurate diagnosis and formulate an effective plan of treatment. However, for Texans and people across the U.S., the reality is not that simple. There are times when the failure to diagnose can lead to delayed treatment, the spread of disease, a condition growing worse and even escalating to the point where the patient dies. Research into the frequency with which people are misdiagnosed is troublesome, particularly at a time when diagnostic techniques should be getting better with new innovations.

It was found that more than 20 percent of people who went for a second opinion at a prominent medical facility had been previously misdiagnosed. 12 percent of those who received care from the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota had gotten an accurate diagnosis. The remainder were diagnosed partially with how those at the Mayo Clinic assessed their cases. These results are compatible with other research into errors in diagnoses, but also show how much improvement can be had in health care.

A 2015 report be the National Academy of Medicine said that a vast number of people will be diagnosed incorrectly or too late at least one time in their lives. In some cases, these are serious issues. Approximately 12 million people receive a misdiagnosis on an annual basis. That comes to 5 percent of adults who are being treated as outpatients. To make matters worse, these misdiagnoses are often underreported. The new study says that around 10 percent of patient deaths and 6 to 17 percent of adverse incidents in hospitals are linked to misdiagnosis. An estimated 10 to 20 percent of cases have a misdiagnosis.

For this study, 286 patients who had gone to see their primary doctor and went to the Mayo Clinic for a second opinion were considered. Two-thirds were under the age of 64 with the majority being female. 62 had a "distinctly different" diagnosis than the initial one. 36 had the same diagnosis. The rest had partially accurate diagnoses but received more clarity from the specialists. Since this is such a small sample size, it brings the light to potential number of people who deal with misdiagnosed cancer and other issues that could lead to death. For a person who was harmed by a failure to consider and diagnose an issue or the family of a loved one who died because of this, it is possible to receive compensation through a legal filing. Contacting a lawyer can help to start a case and move forward.

Source: Washington Post, "20 percent of patients with serious conditions are first misdiagnosed, study says," Lenny Bernstein, April 4, 2017

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