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Misdiagnoses still problematic in many hospitals

Connecticut resident might be interested to know that the old problem of misdiagnosis is a standing dilemma that has not disappeared over time. Even though modern technology has improved the medical community's ability to detect cardiovascular disease and detect ectopic pregnancies, the rate of misdiagnosis has not significantly dropped in recent years, according to sources.

Across various studies, the same kinds of misdiagnoses continue to persist. In one study published by Switzerland's University of Zurich in 2000, researchers looked at the rate of diagnostic errors from 100 autopsies in 1972, 1982 and 1992. They found that although the error rate had halved over the course of those three periods, the same types of misdiagnoses continued to occur. These included cancers, infectious diseases and cardiovascular diseases. Another 2008 autopsy study found that most frequent type of missed diagnosis was pulmonary embolism followed by infections like tuberculosis, cardiovascular disease and neoplasms.

One doctor said that the most common diagnostic errors have not changed over the years due to the way the symptoms are presented. In many cases, he said that the symptoms are nonspecific or atypical. Additionally, certain forms of bacteria have become stronger and more resistant to medication due to overprescribing antibiotics.

Two types of diagnostic errors also tend to occur in the medical community. The first is perceptual errors such as when physicians fail to find additional abnormalities after one has been found on radiology film. The second is alliterative errors where a doctor makes the same incorrect finding as a previous physician after viewing previous radiology reports of a certain patient. One way to combat and thus decrease misdiagnoses is to improve communication and reporting of errors among doctors, according to sources.

A physician who fails to diagnose a disease in a timely manner could be the subject of a victim's lawsuit. Patients or their families could contact a lawyer to determine if they are eligible to file a lawsuit against a doctor who did not make a proper diagnosis.

Source: Medpage Today, "Misdiagnosis: Can It Be Remedied?", Joyce Frieden, December 15, 2014

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