Study: Almost 90 Percent of Patients Received Wrong Diagnosis

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One of the nation’s leading medical care and research centers confirms that patient misdiagnosis is a common and serious medical error that occurs at an alarming rate.

The Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., is regarded among the best hospitals in the United States, providing quality care and cutting edge medical research.  Therefore, the facility sees an overabundance of patients with dire and complex conditions.

The hospital released the results of an inward look at patient diagnoses, the conclusion of which is that patients facing serious illnesses should seek a second medical opinion due to the very real risk of a wrong original diagnosis.

The study included an examination of almost 300 patient records over a two-year period.  The patients all were referred to the renowned facility by primary care physicians.  The Mayo Clinic confirmed the original diagnosis of only 12 percent of the patients.  The other 88 percent of patients either received an entirely different diagnosis or one that was revised; that means the initial diagnosis for nine out of every 10 patients were either wrong or incomplete.

Wrong Diagnosis Can Deny Correct Lifesaving Treatment

Misdiagnosis, along with surgical errors and medication mix-ups, is a leading source of medical mistakes.  They can harm patients by denying the correct life-saving treatment or subjecting them to needless medical care that can be costly and pose unnecessary health risks.

The study’s authors note that diagnostic errors account for about 10 percent of all patient deaths and as much as 17 percent of all hospital adverse events.  An adverse event is one in which a patient suffers harm from medical care, such as a hospital-acquired infection.

Patients Likely to Receive at Least One Misdiagnosis in Lifetime

Referenced in this study is another new, unrelated study on medical misdiagnoses from the National Academy of Medicine, and independent group of medical experts.  This research reports that a person is likely to receive at least one misdiagnosis during his or her lifetime.  It concludes that mistakes in medical diagnosis occur at unacceptable rates and in a wide range of care settings.

The National Academy of Medicine almost 20 years ago released a report that concluded as many as 98,000 people die in the United States each year from preventable medical errors, including misdiagnoses.  More recent estimates place deaths from medical mistakes much higher – as many as 250,000 people per year – making medical errors the nation’s third leading cause of death, behind only heart disease and cancer.

Based on the new study, Mayo Clinic researchers recommend that patients receiving a diagnosis of a serious health condition always seek a second medical opinion.

But not all patients do this, nor should they be expected to routinely get a second opinion.  Rather, healthcare providers should always provide an acceptable level of care, which includes a correct medical diagnosis.

If you or a family member suffered from a serious medical error, contact a medical malpractice attorney to investigate your case.

The choice of a lawyer is an important decision that should not be based solely on advertising.

Authored by Gray, Ritter & Graham, P.C., posted in Articles April 26, 2017