When misdiagnosis occurs, the blame often placed on the physician. There is good reason for this because doctors are trained to diagnose medical conditions. However, the blame is not necessarily on the doctor in every case. Some misdiagnoses or delayed diagnoses can be attributed to the negligence of the patient if they fail to take action in a timely manner once symptoms present themselves.
A new study has shed some light on which diseases are the most commonly misdiagnosed. Prior to this study there was no database that indicated which diseases were misdiagnosed most often. This left both patients and physicians with no knowledge that indicated with diseases they should be taking special care in diagnosing.
This data will benefit physicians and patients in two ways. It will expose the problem areas in diagnosing certain types of diseases and it will highlight where more accurate diagnostic equipment is needed.
The result of the study has found the five most misdiagnosed diseases based on data from autopsy and medical malpractice data.
5. Cardiovascular Disease
Heart disease is one of the leading causes of death in the United States according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). So it does not come as a shock that it is one of the most commonly misdiagnosed diseases. One of the big concerns when diagnosing this disease is the patient’s ability to communicate their symptoms to their doctor. There may be few symptoms and a doctor needs to be able to recognize even the most subtle symptoms as a potential sign of heart disease and order the necessary follow-up tests.
4. Pulmonary Emboli
When fat, blood clots, tumor cells, or a number of other things block an artery in the lungs, a pulmonary embolism results. One of the biggest factors patients should be concerned with relates to the chances of developing a blood clot after surgery. Venous thromboembolisms are the leading cause of preventable patient death in hospitals. It has been estimated that 1.1 percent of surgical patients will develop a blood clot. Doctors need to properly screen and diagnose patients who have a higher risk of developing a blood clot after surgery.
3. Myocardial Infarctions
Myocardial infarction is a heart attack, the blockage of blood flow to the heart which causes muscle tissue damage and/or death in and around the heart. The symptoms can be very subtle, so it is important for patients to discuss all their symptoms with their doctor, no matter how minor they seem, and for the doctor to order the proper diagnostic tests.
A neoplasm is an abnormal growth of tissue that is commonly referred to as cancer. The proper diagnosis of cancer can be very difficult if the necessary tests are not ordered or the subtle symptoms the patient is experiencing are not taken into account. According to this study, 12 percent of all cancers are misdiagnosed from the beginning.
In one survey of physicians published in the journal Pediatrics just over half of the physicians in the survey had improperly diagnosed a viral infection as a bacterial infection during the course of the previous year. In order to properly diagnose an infection doctors need to perform the required follow-up tests and patients need to be forthcoming about all of their symptoms.
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