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Report illustrates the frequency of diagnostic errors

When you are not feeling right or are experiencing clearly noticeable medical symptoms, it is important to have a doctor perform an examination. We prefer to believe that doctors have the knowledge and skills needed to always accurately diagnose any illness or condition that may be affecting our health. Unfortunately, doctors can make mistakes just like anyone else. In fact, diagnostic errors may be occurring more often than you think.

The chairman of the Committee on Diagnostic Error in Medicine has declared that at some point, everyone will experience a significant diagnostic error. And a report produced by the National Academy of Medicine put forth some startling claims, including:

  • According to medical records, diagnostic errors may be accountable for 6 to 17 percent of adverse incidences occurring in hospitals.
  • Post-mortem exams indicate that 10 percent of patient deaths may have involved diagnostic errors.
  • Every year, 5 percent of adults seeking outpatient care are subject to a diagnostic error.

So while it appears that there are far more incidents of medical misdiagnosis than you may have suspected, the intent of this post is not to strike fear in your heart or make you distrust all medical professionals. What is important is that when you receive a diagnosis, you should not be afraid to ask questions. Nor should you hesitate to seek a second opinion if you are unsure about your doctor's assessment.

But ultimately, there is only so much you can do when being diagnosed by a medical professional. A doctor has a duty of care to consider every possible cause of any symptoms that you have.

And if a doctor's failure to properly diagnose your symptoms caused you to miss your window of opportunity for successful treatment, you may want to meet with an experienced medical malpractice attorney. The attorney can assess the degree to which the misdiagnosis impacted your health and work on your behalf to get you compensation to cover your medical expenses.

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