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Misdiagnosis linked to improper antibiotic use

Ohio residents may be aware that the improper use of antibiotics has troubled the medical and legal communities for some time, but the results of a study published on May 18 has shed new light on the scale of the problem. In addition to potentially harming patients, the incorrect use of antibiotics can drive up health care costs and lead to the drugs becoming less effective.

The researchers studied the cases of 500 VA patients, and they discovered that patients who were misdiagnosed, or received an indeterminate or no diagnosis, were incorrectly prescribed antibiotics 95 percent of the time. The researchers found similar medication errors among 38 percent of the patients who were diagnosed correctly. Misdiagnosis was also discovered to be a widespread problem. The researchers said that 42 percent of the patients surveyed received an incorrect diagnosis with pneumonia, kidney and urinary tract infections and cystitis being among the most commonly misdiagnosed conditions.

The study concluded that the incorrect use of antibiotics could be curtailed if medical professionals relied less on their intuition and more on analysis when making a diagnosis. Factors including fatigue, lack of clinical experience and a previous incorrect diagnosis were also said to contribute to the problem.

Mistakes made by doctors and hospitals can lead to life-changing injuries, but pursuing medical malpractice litigation is often challenging. The defendants in these cases often have considerable resources to call upon, and it may be difficult to find medical professionals willing to point out mistakes made by their peers. A medical malpractice attorney will often be familiar with these challenges and may be able to offer a thorough evaluation of a potential lawsuit as well as identify the possible damages that could be sought.

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