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The truth about medical misdiagnosis

For a large majority of Connecticut residents, putting a medical condition or injury into a professional's hands provides a sense of comfort. After all, there is often no trouble in doing so, for doctors are the experts. There are many patients, however, who have not had such a positive experience at a medical facility, whether it is due to negligence, incorrect prescriptions or misdiagnosis of an illness. Medical misdiagnosis is no new problem, but is it really as common as some might assume?

An article in The Washington Post revealed last April that, according to new research, doctors first misdiagnose 20 percent of patients with serious medical concerns. This statistic aligned with other current research on diagnostic errors, but did infer that the U.S. healthcare system still has a long way to go in terms of efficiency. While to err is human -- many doctors stress the difficulty of diagnosing illnesses -- doing so in a medical setting can come with serious repercussions. The Post also shares the report's unsettling fact that diagnostic errors are largly under-measured, yet lead to roughly 10 percent of deaths among patients. Experts from this research also stress the importance of getting a second opinion on any suspicious symptoms that continue even after a diagnosis. 

The Post's article from last year appeared to have followed a long line of alarming speculation regarding medical misdiagnosis in the country. CBS News reported similar findings in 2014, showing that, out of the 12 million Americans who receive incorrect diagnoses of medical conditions, a considerable number experience such examinations at doctor's offices and outpatient clinics. These findings certainly evoke a sense of urgency among patients across the nation; some experts criticize the rushed doctor visits that are so common today. While the unpredictability of doctor diagnosis and direction can be upsetting, patients may find affirmation by revealing all concerns to doctors, communicating openly and following up on lab testing and other medical procedures.           


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