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Cancer and infections top list of commonly misdiagnosed diseases


Readers of our Oregon medical malpractice blog may be interested to learn of the findings in a study about the most commonly misdiagnosed diseases. The failure to diagnose diseases is a serious and chronic problem, since up to 98,000 people with preventable diseases pass away every year because of medical mistakes. The team of physicians in charge of the study looked at the statistical results from both autopsy and medical malpractice data. The findings show problem areas in diagnosis where many physicians fail to properly test patients for certain diseases.

Data from 2011 shows that heart disease was the leading cause of death that year in the country. Accordingly, the study found the prevalence of heart disease makes it one of the most often misdiagnosed diseases. It is a doctor's responsibility to recognize symptoms of heart disease or a heart attack and order appropriate tests to verify the diagnosis. Physicians must do so on a timely basis, since heart disease and heart attacks can quickly turn deadly.

Pulmonary embolisms also top the list of misdiagnosed conditions. This is a blockage in a lung artery caused by things such as blood clots. Especially following surgery, it is imperative that doctors screen and test patients with a higher risk for developing a blood clot. Cancer was the second most common misdiagnosed disease. As with the other conditions examined in the study, physicians must be able to take into consideration all of a patient's symptoms and order the proper follow-up tests. The study found that 12% of all cancers go misdiagnosed from the onset of a patient's symptoms. Melanoma is the most often misdiagnosed type of cancer according to the findings. Finally, the study found that infections were the most commonly misdiagnosed disease.

A medical malpractice claim is a way to hold negligent physicians accountable for their medical mistakes. The consequences associated with a misdiagnosed disease can be severe. Delayed treatment, permanent injury or death can result. A successful malpractice claim can secure a damage award for the victim and his or her family.

Source: Daily Finance, "The 5 most misdiagnosed diseases," Sean Williams, July 23, 2013

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