Study: 5 percent of Americans misdiagnosed each year

A study has found that one out of every 20 patients is misdiagnosed each year.

When you visit your physician, you may have noticed that he or she seems to be in more of a hurry than physicians of 10 or 20 years ago. One of the reasons for this is that physicians are under pressure to see as many patients in a day as they possibly can in order to reap higher profits.

Part of the reason behind this is the reimbursement rules that insurance companies and Medicare impose on physicians. Unfortunately, this way of practicing medicine can lead to misdiagnoses, as the physician has less time to perform more in depth examinations and get to the root of the patient's condition.

According to a recent study published in BMJ Quality and Safety, misdiagnoses are a significant problem in the United States. The study found that 12 million adults that seek medical assistance from emergency rooms and primary care clinics each year in the U.S. receive the wrong diagnosis. Of these millions of people, about half are injured or suffer harm because of the failure to diagnose the correct condition during the visit.

Of all patients that visit outpatient clinics, the study found that roughly five percent are harmed by a misdiagnosis. Based on its analysis of physician medical records, the study found that in many misdiagnoses, the physician had the information necessary from the first visit to make the correct diagnosis.

Any instance of misdiagnosis can be a serious threat to patient health. Even if the correct condition is not serious, a delay in treatment can make it harder to treat. Of course, if the condition is serious, like a heart attack, any delay can have fatal results.

Consult an attorney

Fortunately, Georgia law does not consider reimbursement rules a sufficient excuse for providing substandard medical care. The law imposes a duty on physicians in the state to provide their patients with medical care that exhibits a certain level of skill and competence. When a physician, although hurried by external forces, fails to use the minimum level of skill to make a correct diagnosis, which causes harm to the patient, he or she commits medical malpractice.

Under the law, patients that have been harmed by medical malpractice are entitled to recover damages such as medical bills, pain and suffering and other expenses stemming from the harm. Additionally, if the diagnostic error results in the patient's death, the family of the decedent may recover similar expenses in a wrongful death lawsuit.

If you or a loved one have been harmed by an incorrect diagnosis, an experienced personal injury attorney can advise you further about your right to compensation.

Keywords: medical malpractice, misdiagnosis