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Why misdiagnosis is on the rise

| Mar 16, 2021 | Medical Malpractice

Misdiagnosis is a serious concern among medical practitioners in Indiana, and it is on the rise. A misdiagnosis is incredibly dangerous for patients because it can delay treating other conditions in which time is of the essence. Additionally, patients face taking prescription medications that could exacerbate their condition.

Such is the case with the distance runner and associate professor at Virginia Union University. She attributed her fatigue and shortness of breath to her busy lifestyle. Her physician told her she was probably suffering from allergies and maybe asthma. Within the year, she was accurately diagnosed with sarcoidosis and heart failure prompting doctors to give her a pacemaker.

Why misdiagnosis happens

Because doctors are human, errors are inevitable. One reason this may happen is that doctors have less time to spend with patients than they used to. Quick assessments can lead to an incorrect diagnosis. Meanwhile, most doctors are never informed that they were wrong.

Another reason this could happen is that doctors have traditionally made the call on their own when determining what was wrong with a patient. It simply isn’t common in the medical practice to consult with others in a teamwork setting for each patient.

Misdiagnosis and therefore medical malpractice can also be contributed to technology errors. Older MRI machines, for example, may not give as clear pictures as newer machines.

How to prevent misdiagnosis

While human error will always exist, patients can advocate for themselves. Obtaining a second opinion and asking many questions of your diagnosing physician are both ways to protect yourself.

Additionally, the Society to Improve Diagnosis in Medicine (SIDM) is highlighting ways that the medical community can assist in diminishing misdiagnosis. Encouraging teamwork between providers, patients and their families and developing plans for providers to identify and learn from mistakes are just two of these ways.