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Still a long way to go to prevent medical misdiagnosis

America is reported to have the best health care system in the world. We trust our doctors and most of the time, with good reason. However, recent research published by the Mayo Clinic and reported in the Washington Post reveals that we haven't yet reached a point where we should trust our medical providers so completely.

According to the research, as high as 20 percent of seriously ill people will be misdiagnosed by their primary care physician. According to a 2015 report put out by the National Academy of Medicine, roughly 12 million adults do not receive an accurate initial diagnosis, often resulting in delayed medical treatment for serious conditions. The moral of the story, says Dr. James M. Naessens, of Mayo Clinic's Department of Health Services Research, it that, "The second opinion is a good approach for certain patients to figure out what's there and to keep costs down."

What are the most frequently misdiagnosed conditions?

According to one published report on well-being, the most commonly-misdiagnosed medical conditions leading to more serious problems include:

  1. Infections: This may be a natural consequence of the sheer number of infections suffered by patients. Infections far-and-away exceed all other types of diseases, and they are often fatal.
  2. Blood clots in the lungs (polmonary emboli): This condition kills more people every year (60,000 - 200,000) than car accidents, lung cancer and AIDS combined. These clots are often missed diagnosed or overlooked completely during check ups because often the patient exhibits no unusual symptoms until an medical episode brings them to light.
  3. Heart attacks (myocardio infarctions): Everyone has seen classic symptoms of a heart attack played out by actors on television. However, many people exhibit no dramatic symptoms and they are often ignored or confused with less serious conditions such as heart burn.
  4. Cardiovascular disease: Often overlooked by doctors because no telltale symptoms are present during annual check ups. It is estimated that more than 600,000 people die of one form or another of this condition every year. 
  5. Cancers: Research shows that more than 12 percent of cancers are misdiagnosed or not diagnosed in time for effective treatment. The most commonly misdiagnosed cancers include breast cancer, skin cancer and colorectal cancer.

Medical malpractice litigation for misdiagnosis

The medical profession holds primary care physicians and hospitals to a high standard of care, yet misdiagnosis continues to be a serious problem plaguing Americans. If misdiagnosis results in improper treatment or delayed treatment, patients have the right to sue for negligence on the grounds that their health care provider failed to meet the expected level of care. In many cases, it is the legal industry that holds health care providers responsible, more so than the medical profession itself. 

If you feel your medical condition was misdiagnosed and resulted in additional medical treatment or the death of a loved one, talk to an attorney with experience handling complex cases of medical malpractice. 

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