How often the first diagnosis your doctor assigns you is wrong

A study published by the Mayo Clinic in April suggests that patients should do their due diligence to get a second opinion when diagnosed with a complicated disease. This recommendation comes after the renowned research hospital did an audit of its own doctors and their first diagnoses. As patients underwent secondary evaluations, they found that a large percentage of cases were misdiagnosed.

In their report, the study's researchers describe how of the nearly 300 cases they evaluated, in at least 21 percent of them, the secondary diagnosis was far different from the original one. And in at least 66 percent of all cases, diagnoses had to be either added to or adjusted. In the remaining cases, the second opinions matched the first ones.

The study, which was published in the Journal of Evaluation in Clinical Practice, highlights how patients seeking a second opinion diagnosis should proceed to their closest university-affiliated medical center to get it. They note that, while it may cost additional money and time to seek out a secondary diagnosis, it can also help patients avoid complications associated with a misdiagnosis.

Researchers note that second opinions, just like first ones, should be arrived at in-person as opposed to a doctor making a decision by simply reviewing the patient's medical records. They highlight how it's important that doctors are able to physically see and interact with the patient, even if for no other reason than to gauge the patient's body language. Both parties should should meet so tests can be rerun as well.

The researchers go on to describe how there are so many instances of undifferentiated symptoms, or those that may be consistent with more than a single diagnosis. They highlight how a patient that is wrongly diagnosed may receive the wrong treatment or medication, resulting in his or her death.

In fact, they highlight how among those who have died in hospitals, autopsies have shown that between 6 and 17 percent of them can be blamed on diagnostic errors.

If you believe that either your or your loved one's worsening medical condition was caused by a either a failure to diagnose or a delayed or wrong diagnosis, then a Tucson medical malpractice doctor may be able to help you recover medical expenses and other damages.

Source: San Diego Union Tribune, "First medical diagnosis often incomplete or plain wrong, study finds," Brandon Fikes, accessed Aug. 11, 2017

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