Receiving an accurate diagnosis may mean life or death for somebody with a health problem. Misdiagnoses have caused patients to lose precious time in seeking treatment or to receive the wrong treatment that further damaged their health. Research has shown errors in diagnosis may happen in ten to thirty percent of medical cases. Not all conditions have an equal chance of misdiagnosis, though.
According to Medical News Today, researchers from Johns Hopkins Medicine took a look at more than 11,000 malpractice claims from a database to discover the conditions doctors are most likely to incorrectly diagnose. The study found that many conditions did not receive a great number of misdiagnoses while three conditions in particular accounted for a large number of misdiagnoses.
The top three conditions
The top three kinds of misdiagnosed conditions resulted in almost three fourths of all cases involving serious harm to patients. Cancer was the top misdiagnosed condition, accounting for over one third of cases. In second place, vascular conditions made up 22% of cases. Infections came in third place with 13.5%.
The researchers broke down these three conditions into 15 particular health issues. They discovered that lung cancer, stroke and sepsis were the top misdiagnosed conditions, followed by other health problems such as meningitis, heart attacks and pneumonia, as well as blood clots in various locations and prostate, breast and skin cancers.
Where misdiagnoses may happen
The study found that misdiagnoses would occur in varying settings depending on the kind of condition. A person receiving a cancer misdiagnosis was more likely to receive it in an outpatient location. Patients with infection or vascular problems would likely receive an errant diagnosis in an emergency situation. Failures of judgment in a clinical setting often contributed to the misdiagnoses.
The researchers suggested different ways to try to prevent a misdiagnosis. These measures included providing patients with speedier access to medical specialists and utilizing technology that could help with diagnosis. The researchers also concluded that strengthening the teamwork abilities among members of a medical team might help combat misdiagnosis.