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Although much progress has been made to reduce medical errors in a hospital setting, less attention has been given to missed and wrong diagnosis in outpatient experiences.

According to Hardeep Singh, author of a recent study published in BMJ Quality and Safety, at least 1 in 20 adult outpatients receives an incorrect diagnosis.   “The harm from misdiagnosis occurs when the correct treatment is delayed or when you get an inappropriate treatment or test,” said Singh.  Although sometimes the consequences are minor, more than 6 million patients misdiagnosed every year could face major consequences, such as a dangerous delay in cancer treatment.

The reasons for outpatient misdiagnosis varied, according to Singh.  He believes that both doctors and patients are to blame for the errors.  The study noted that while some doctors may not be well-versed in the condition for which the patient is seeking treatment, the patient may also not be able to effectively communicate their ailments.

Each doctor/specialist has information critical to the decision-making of process of a patient, yet often times the system works against us when we try to “connect the vital pieces. It is a matter of life or death that healthcare providers improve coordination and promote accountability, but most of all make a special effort to work together improving communication and ultimately outcomes.

We can’t eliminate human error, but the patient, their care teams, and the healthcare system can reduce errors by working together.  Patients should provide a complete list of symptoms and a full health history at the first visit. Additionally, patients should be proactive about following up.  Patients should be more proactive in their care and treatment and asking questions whey they don’t understand.  Patients should not blindly accept treatment, diagnosis and prognosis. Communication is essential for the effective delivery of healthcare. The lack of understanding can lead to medication errors and adverse medical outcomes.

It is critical that patients and healthcare providers embrace a team concept to achieve the best medical care.  It is critical that we all speak up for improved communication. It should not take a study or a lawsuit to safety changes in healthcare.

Mark Bello has thirty-seven years experience as a trial lawyer and fifteen years as an underwriter and situational analyst in the lawsuit funding industry. He is the owner and founder of Lawsuit Financial Corporation which helps provide cash flow solutions and consulting when necessities of life litigation funding is needed by a plaintiff involved in pending, personal injury, litigation. Bello is a Justice Pac member of the American Association for Justice, Sustaining and Justice Pac member of the Michigan Association for Justice, Member of Public Justice, Public Citizen, the American Bar Association, the State Bar of Michigan and the Injury Board.

One Comment

  1. Gravatar for jc

    Mark Bello and his yearly bash the doctors commentary. Yet we never hear Mark talk about the 85% failure rate at trial of plaintiff attorneys. Why doesn't Mark talk about something that he knows something about?

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