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Understanding common misdiagnoses

Many families in North Carolina may already be with familiar with how difficult it can be to diagnose a medical condition from home. Recent studies indicate that the challenges are significant at hospitals and physicians' offices as well. Some prominent doctors claim that the recent research underscores the importance of patients being assertive about assessing potential symptoms or seeing a second physician if the diagnosis from the primary doctor was less than satisfactory.

A study conducted in 2008 reviewed the autopsy and malpractice outcomes to determine the most commonly misdiagnosed medical conditions. Researchers found that infections were the medical condition that are most often misdiagnosed. This is mainly because there are so many more different types of infections than the other medical conditions under consideration. When relative incidence is considered, infections do not make the top five on the list. However, it's worth noting that many of the misdiagnosed infections could ultimately prove to be fatal.

After infections, the other medical conditions that are most commonly misdiagnosed include blood clot in the lungs, heart attack, cardiovascular disease, cancer and stroke. Rounding out the bottom of the list are depression, Lyme disease, Parkinson's disease, chronic lower back pain, lupus and celiac disease. Statistics indicate that there are around 12 million misdiagnoses every year. Researchers also learned that 10 to 20 percent of all medical cases either involved a misdiagnosis, a delayed diagnosis or a missed diagnosis.

Researchers examined medical records from 538 misdiagnosed cases and discovered that 28 percent resulted in permanent disability or a life-threatening condition. Patients who feel their suffering may be due to a hospital or doctor error may benefit from conferring with legal counsel about filing a medical malpractice claim. The physician, other providers or the facility itself may be held responsible for the damages if negligence is proven.

Source: Mother Nature Network, "12 illnesses that are commonly misdiagnosed", Melissa Breyer, July 18, 2014

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