Many North Carolina patients know that a misdiagnosis could result in serious damages or even death. However, researchers and doctors are attempting to reduce the rate of misdiagnoses by analyzing research from autopsies, physician-reported errors and error types. Findings from the research included diseases that were more likely to be misdiagnosed and how the misdiagnoses occurred.
Because an autopsy often allows doctors and researchers to determine what actually caused a patient’s death, newer diseases that have increased within the past few decades but are still often clinically misdiagnosed can be studied. Some autopsy studies revealed that the rate of misdiagnosis was declining; however, doctors were still misdiagnosing the same conditions, which included cancers and cardiovascular diseases. Another study found that doctors were still failing to diagnose pulmonary embolism and infections, such as tuberculosis.
A study on physician-reported errors also found that top misdiagnoses included cancers and pulmonary embolism in addition to drug reaction or overdose. However, it was noted that misdiagnoses were specialty-dependent. For example, misdiagnoses in the emergency department often included heart attacks and appendicitis. Newer diseases, such as necrotizing fasciitis and sepsis, were also more likely to be misdiagnosed.
Approximately 70 percent of misdiagnoses are found to be perceptual errors. For example, a physician may miss an anomaly on the film or miss other anomalies once a diagnosis is determined. Another error included alliterative errors, which is when a physician makes a diagnosis based on a previous diagnosis of the same condition for the patient.
While there are physicians and researchers actively looking for ways to reduce the rates of misdiagnoses, they can still cause harm to a patient. If a patient dies because a doctor or healthcare member failed to properly diagnose their condition, family members may be eligible to file a wrongful death claim against both the hospital where the death occurred and the physician who misdiagnosed the patient.
Source: Medpage Today, “Misdiagnosis: Can It Be Remedied?“, Joyce Frieden, December 12, 2014