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Study Suggests Over 20% of Patients with Serious Conditions are Initially Misdiagnosed

doctor reviewing a chart

A new study recently published in the Journal of Evaluation in Clinical Practice suggests that over 20% of patients who obtained a second opinion from a Minnesota clinic were misdiagnosed by their primary physicians. The study, which focused on patients who sought second opinions from the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, one of the nation’s leading medical centers, suggests that accurate diagnoses may be more difficult to come by than most people would expect.

Here are a few details about the study:

  • Researchers analyzed nearly 300 patients who had seen their PCP, a physician assistant, or a nurse practitioner, received a diagnosis, and then sought a second opinion from the Mayo Clinic, with or without the assistance of the original medical professional.
  • 21% of patients had a second diagnosis that was distinctly different from the first.
  • 12% of patients had the same diagnosis.
  • The remaining patients had partially correct diagnoses that were refined by the second opinion.

Although the study evaluated fewer than 300 hundred patients, researchers have noted that the results of the recent study fall in line with results from other studies on diagnostic errors in the medical industry. Here are a few notable diagnostic error statistics noted in the study:

  • Most patients will receive a misdiagnosis or a delayed diagnosis at least once in their lifetime.
  • Roughly 12 million Americans receive a misdiagnosis each year.
  • Diagnostic errors account for roughly 10% of patient deaths and between 6 to 17% of adverse events in hospital settings.

While the study shows that there is ample room for improvement in medical science, and speaks to the importance of obtaining a second or even third opinion, it is important to remember that just because a misdiagnosis occurs does not mean that the misdiagnosis rises to the level of negligence and medical malpractice. Even the most competent and reasonably skillful doctors can make an inaccurate assessment of a patient’s condition.

Diagnostic errors are certainly concerning, as they can place patients at risk of receiving the treatment they do not need or suffering as a result of delayed treatment or no treatment at all. When it comes to medical malpractice claims, patients must prove that a misdiagnosis or a delayed diagnosis should and could have been prevented had a medical professional upheld their legal duty to treat a patient in accordance to the accepted “standard of care.” Generally, this means that if medical professionals agree that a condition should and could have been accurately identified, but was not due to a doctor’s negligence, victims will have the right to pursue compensation for the damages they suffer as a result of the diagnostic error.

As a Physician Attorney with decades of experience, Michael M. Wilson, M.D., J.D. understands the process medical professionals must use in order to diagnose a patient, as well as circumstances that merit consulting with specialists, conducting appropriate tests, and administering further evaluations. His insight into the medical profession and the standard of care that exists when a physician treats a patient allows him to effectively determine when and how health care providers fall short in meeting their duty of care and highlight their failures for the benefit of patients and families that suffer preventable harm as a result.

If you have questions about a misdiagnosis, delayed diagnosis, or any type of medical malpractice case, The Law Offices of Dr. Michael M. Wilson, M.D., J.D & Associates is available to help. Remember, these cases can be challenging, and they demand both an in-depth review of the facts and experienced representation in order to be handled effectively. Contact us today for a FREE consultation to discuss your potential case.

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