When you go into a medical clinic or the emergency room, you rely on the physicians, nurses and staff to assess your symptoms, provide a diagnosis and prescribe a treatment that may improve your condition. Yet, the rate of misdiagnosis and failure to diagnose patients in California and across the country is alarming. Every year, at least 12 million people are misdiagnosed by medical professionals in these settings, according to a report published in BMJ Quality & Safety. In at least half of those cases, serious injuries were caused because of the diagnostic errors.
Researchers found that there may be several factors involved in the high rate of misdiagnosis. Patients who see doctors in outpatient clinics and emergency rooms are not established with the medical professionals on call. As a result, the physician may not have a complete medical history of the patient, which could affect the accuracy of the diagnosis. In addition, doctors may be rushed to see one patient after another, and are not able to spend an ample amount of time with each patient. Other factors involved in medical misdiagnosis include physicians ordering the wrong type of lab screenings and misreading the results of lab tests once they are completed.
In order to minimize the risk of misdiagnosis, patients should be involved in their healthcare. You should ask questions regarding your diagnosis, ask about treatment options and then follow up with another physician if you feel you have not received adequate treatment.
This information is intended to educate and should not be taken as legal advice.