When a Missouri patient experiences serious symptoms and seeks a medical diagnosis from a doctor, his or her prognosis depends to some degree on that doctor making an accurate medical diagnosis. However, medical misdiagnosis is alarmingly common. This is particularly true when it comes to patients experiencing serious medical conditions.
According to AARP, about one in five patients suffering from serious conditions have their primary care doctors misdiagnose them. Another 66% of patients who receive diagnoses from their primary care doctors receive diagnoses that are only somewhat accurate, meaning the diagnoses need updating later on. Why is medical misdiagnosis so common, and is there anything patients might do to increase the chances of receiving an accurate diagnosis?
Why misdiagnosis occurs
Part of the reason medical misdiagnosis affects so many patients is that there are only a few hundred symptoms patients might experience, but more than 10,000 diseases that may cause them. Another reason medical misdiagnosis is so common is that patients may be quick to accept their primary care doctors’ words because insurance restrictions make it difficult for them to secure second opinions.
What happens when misdiagnosis occurs
The consequences of medical misdiagnosis are far-reaching. Research shows that medical misdiagnosis plays a role in about 10% of all patient deaths. It also contributes to between 6% and 17% of adverse events that occur in U.S. hospitals.
Many cases of medical misdiagnosis could be identifiable if patients were to seek second opinions. Patients diagnosed with serious conditions and patients who fail to respond to medical treatments for their diagnosed conditions may benefit from pursuing second opinions.