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Medical misdiagnosis is a serious problem in outpatient settings

Medical misdiagnosis is a big problem in the United States. A current report in BMJ Quality & Safety shows that one out of 20 adults might not receive a proper medical diagnosis. In about half of those incidents of misdiagnosis, the patient might suffer serious harm as a result. This means that approximately 5 percent of outpatient diagnoses are incorrect.

The study examined three prior studies that were related to follow-up visits and diagnosis. This study varies from previous medical misdiagnosis studies because this new study looked at the incidence of misdiagnosis in doctors' offices and outpatient clinics where previous studies looked at the incidence of misdiagnosis in a hospital setting.

One study that was published in JAMA Internal Medicine in 2012 noted that some of the most common causes of medical misdiagnosis include test result interpretation, inaccurate medical history information and diagnostic test ordering problems. This points to how vital it is for doctors to listen to patients, talk to patients and do a complete exam instead of trying to rush through an appointment.

The authors of the newest study used a mathematical formula to determine the annual rate of misdiagnosis, which is 5.08 percent. Some of the most common complaints that can be indicative of a serious condition that could potentially be misdiagnosed include shortness of breath, abdominal pain and coughing.

This newest study shows how important it is for patients to follow-up with their doctors and get test results. While it is up to the doctor to ensure a proper diagnosis is made, patients should also take a proactive stance when it comes to medical care. If you feel you haven't received a proper diagnosis and have suffered harm because of the misdiagnosis, you might have the right to seek compensation for a variety of claims.

Source: CBS News, "12 million Americans misdiagnosed each year" Jessica Firger, Apr. 17, 2014

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