People throughout Indiana and across the United States place their trust and lives in the hands of trained medical professionals. When patients go into the emergency room or outpatient clinic, however, they may leave with the wrong diagnosis.
According to BMJ Quality & Safety, medical misdiagnosis affects 12 million people across the country every year. A surprising 40,000 to 80,000 of these incidents are fatal and half result in long-term issues. What causes these diagnostic errors and how can people minimize their risk of being affected?
What causes diagnostic errors?
Misdiagnosis often involves a miscommunication between either the patient and the physician or between medical professionals. Other issues leading to errors may include the following:
- Physicians rushing through patients and not spending the needed time with each
- Patients not sharing their full medical history with physicians
- Physicians ordering the wrong type of screening test
- Physicians misreading screening tests
- Patients seeing several doctors
When physicians do not have a full picture of a patient’s medical background or are unable to share information with other physicians, it can be difficult to
What is being done?
When going into an outpatient clinic or emergency room, patients should attempt to give doctors a full history, including symptoms, previous issues and any prescriptions they are taking. Physicians should schedule enough time with each patient so they may listen carefully to the issue at hand. If doctors or patients are unsure of an issue, they should reach out for a second opinion.
Physicians should take breaks and avoid working long hours so they are able to freshly examine each patient. They should also refer patients to specialists if needed and not attempt to take on the issue themselves if they are unsure of the diagnosis.