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Diagnostic errors attributed to 10 percent of patient deaths

People in Ohio seeking medical care should attempt to describe their symptoms as clearly as possible. Questioning a physician or getting a second medical opinion could help a person avoid a missed diagnosis. Medical researchers recommend vigilance on the part of patients because delayed or inaccurate diagnoses happen to at least 5 percent of people receiving outpatient care. The Institute of Medicine asserts that approximately 10 percent of patient deaths arise from diagnostic errors.

Experts have noted that misdiagnoses lead to unnecessary treatment while the true problem remains unknown. According to researchers, some medical conditions defy detection more than others. For example, heart attacks might trigger flu-like symptoms instead of the classic chest and arm pain. A Journal of the American Medical Association study identified lung, colorectal and breast cancers as difficult to diagnose. In that study, those conditions accounted for almost 10 percent of diagnostic errors. Failure to order a biopsy after an abnormal test was most likely to delay diagnosis.

Another troublesome category was drug overdose. Opioid painkillers such as OxyContin, Vicodin and Percocet prescribed by physicians were typically involved when physicians missed the detection of overdoses, especially among elderly patients.

Because a failure to diagnose a disease might lead to costly unnecessary treatment while allowing a disease to progress, it could be grounds for a medical malpractice lawsuit. An attorney could evaluate the medical records of a harmed patient to see if negligence occurred. A medical expert might be consulted with by an attorney in order to obtain an opinion about a medication error or hospital negligence.

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