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What's the cure for a misdiagnosis?

The Institute of Medicine plans to release a report in the near future in the hopes of bringing more attention to what appears to be a persistent problem in the health care industry. Every year, deadly medical conditions from cancer to myocardial infarctions are missed completely or assumed to be something else, leading to delays in treatment, sometimes until it is too late. Patients in Missouri could experience significant harm or loss of life due to a misdiagnosis.

A misdiagnosis generally refers to an instance in which a medical professional makes an incorrect diagnosis, misses a diagnosis or is too late in determining the true cause of a patient's health issues. The Society to Improve Diagnosis in Medicine's president remarked in a recent piece on the subject that there has not been much of a difference in the types of misdiagnoses being made over the years. Various autopsy reports reveal that some of the conditions most often misdiagnosed include certain cancers, lethal heart conditions and infections; while detecting cardiac conditions has become easier, these conditions still occupy spots on the list of the top ten misdiagnoses.

Other studies have used different methods for assessing occurrences of misdiagnoses. In addition to autopsy studies, a few studies rely on physician-reported errors for data, but these studies may be less reliable since doctors may not always self-report. As to reducing the rate of misdiagnoses, some say that implementing new practices early in physicians' careers, such as placing more emphasis in medical school curricula on diagnosis, could prevent hasty or poor diagnoses down the road. The SIDM has even created an education committee with the purpose of developing special curricula for medical students that helps them spot errors.

Patients who got sicker or suffered irreparable harm because a doctor failed to make the right initial diagnosis might be unable to work and need expensive medical treatment. A personal injury attorney with medical malpractice experience could assist them in securing the compensation they need by assessing their case and filing a civil claim against a negligent practitioner or facility.

Source: Med Page Today, "Misdiagnosis: Can It Be Remedied?", Joyce Frieden, August 15, 2014

Source: Med Page Today, "Misdiagnosis: Can It Be Remedied?", Joyce Frieden, August 15, 2014

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