About 20% of serious medical conditions misdiagnosed

Receiving a prompt and accurate medical diagnosis is paramount if you wish to have your best chance at recovering from your ailment. Unfortunately, many Americans fail to receive accurate medical diagnoses from their primary care doctors.

AARP reports that a recent study shines a spotlight on just how many Americans receive inaccurate or incomplete diagnoses when visiting their primary care doctors, raising numerous concerns about the prevalence of medical misdiagnosis.

The study, which involved patients who pursued second medical opinions after receiving an initial diagnosis from their family doctors, found that about a fifth of all patients received initial diagnoses that were completely incorrect. While about 20% of patients involved in the study received wrong diagnoses, another 66% heard diagnoses that were only somewhat correct, meaning they required additional changes upon a second visit. Only in about 12% of cases did patients get accurate diagnoses from their primary care doctors during their first visits.

Possible reasons

Why is it that so many doctors struggle to give their patients appropriate and accurate diagnoses? Part of the problem may have to do with the fact that roughly 10,000 diseases exist. That said, there are only about 200 or 300 symptoms patients can exhibit to help determine which disease affects them.

While this can be problematic, so can the fact that some health insurance providers refuse to cover expenses relating to out-of-network specialists, making many people hesitant to seek second opinions at all because of fears about costs.

Hospital concerns

While a diagnostic mistake can have a sizable effect on a patient’s prognosis, it can also lead to adverse events in hospitals and similar medical environments. In one study, evidence showed that diagnostic errors were a factor in between 6% and 17% of all adverse events in American hospitals.

While medical misdiagnosis is an alarmingly common problem affecting today’s health care system, research indicates that securing a second medical opinion can substantially increase your chances of receiving an accurate medical diagnosis.

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