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Misdiagnosis and why it occurs

Physicians and health care providers in North Carolina and other states continue to have problems as certain diseases are wrongfully diagnosed. A misdiagnosis generally refers to a delayed or wrong diagnosis that is detected later trough testing or another means. When studying diagnostic errors, researchers can look at autopsies, malpractice suits and instances of physician-reported errors. The president of the Society to Improve Diagnosis in Medicine said that malpractice cases indicate that errors consistently occur when identifying certain conditions and illnesses like cancer, heart attacks, sepsis, strokes and meningitis.

Medical mistakes can happen for multiple reasons that may involve a physician's perception or cognition. Perceptual errors might occur when a doctor does not recognize the given evidence for what it is or stops searching after finding one answer. Cognitive errors take place when a physician does notice something but dismisses its importance.

Correcting misdiagnosis rates is difficult because physicians do not always report errors, and there are not even many studies about physicians reporting a misdiagnosis. Many doctors never received training concerning identifying or discussing their mistakes, and some physicians not disclose misdiagnosis errors because they fear blame. The SIDM hopes to reduce some medical errors by creating a curriculum that teaches medical students to spot and prevent errors.

A failure to diagnose a patient correctly can lead to worsened or new conditions, and a timely diagnosis is essential when treating some serious diseases like cancer. If a patient is injured or killed because of a misdiagnosis, victims or their loved ones could be entitled to compensation. An attorney who has experience in medical malpractice litigation can be of assistance to a client in this regard.

Source: Medpage Today, "Misdiagnosis: Can It Be Remedied?", Joyce Frieden, December 17, 2014

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