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At The O’Keefe Firm, we have spent many years dealing with misdiagnosis mistakes. These are mistakes made by doctors and other health care professionals in deciding what is wrong with a patient. A very common situation is when a doctor misses signs of an injury or disease. We see this often with failure to diagnose cancer. We have many clients that have presented to a doctor with cancer symptoms, but the doctor fails to see them for what they are and the person tragically does not get necessary treatment until it is too late. We have experience in handling failure to diagnose breast cancer, failure to diagnose prostate cancer, failure to diagnose lung cancer and failure to diagnose skin cancer.
Studies have shown that misdiagnosis mistakes are more common than you might think. A famous study published in 1999 estimated that 98,000 people die every year from medical errors. To date, however, no study has tried to determine how many people are harmed by misdiagnosis mistakes in outpatient settings like Emergency Rooms and private doctor’s offices. A new study, just released, found that the numbers are staggering. A team of researchers studied medical records from thousands of patients over the last few years. They determined that roughly 12 million Americans are the victim of a misdiagnosis mistake every year. This represents 1 in 20, or 5%, of patients nationwide. According to Dr. Gordon Schiff, a patient safety expert from Boston, this new study probably represents a low estimate and that the actual numbers are even higher.
The author of the study, Dr. Hardeep Singh, estimates that at least half of these misdiagnosis mistakes, approximately 6 million cases per year, result in serious harm to the patients. The new study offers a sample of the symptoms that most commonly lead to misdiagnosis mistakes. These include cough, abdominal pain and shortness of breath, all of which can be signs of a very serious medical condition. This study shows that doctors miss the importance of these symptoms at least 5% of the time. Dr. Jon LaPook, the chief medical correspondent for CBS News says that getting 95% right seems like a good score on a school history test, “but it’s not good enough for medicine, especially when lives are at stake.”
If you feel you are one of the 12 million people per year who have suffered an outpatient misdiagnosis mistake, you need someone with experience to review your case. Please call The O’Keefe Firm at 937-643-0600 for a free consultation.