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Study: Misdiagnosis is common in outpatient care

On our Queens medical malpractice blog, we spend most of our time discussing the many errors that can (and do) take place in hospitals and other inpatient settings. While it is, of course, vitally important to focus on that aspect of medical malpractice, doing so often means that less attention is paid to the harm that is suffered in clinics, doctors’ offices and other outpatient settings. Because diagnoses of ailments ranging from cancer to the common cold are often made in those settings, the potential for lasting, life-changing harm there is significant.

Unfortunately, research on the topic of outpatient medical errors is somewhat lacking. But that has changed with a new study, which reports that approximately one in every 20 adults that visits an outpatient facility is misdiagnosed. That adds up to a staggering 12 million adults receiving incorrect diagnoses every year. Researchers believe that about half of those patients suffer serious harm, such as postponing cancer treatment or receiving unnecessary treatment, from being misdiagnosed.

The study was performed with data from three earlier studies. In sum, researchers looked at approximately 3,000 records from outpatient facilities. They found that just over five percent of those records included a misdiagnosis.

Although these numbers alone are frightening, the actual situation may be worse. Researchers state that flawed medical records and other data errors may mean that the number of misdiagnosis and other injuries could be even higher.

Whether you are being treated in a clinic, doctor’s office, hospital or any other medical facility, you have the right to receive safe medical treatment. If that does not happen, a medical malpractice lawsuit may be a good option for you.

Source: New York Post, "Odds your doctor has misdiagnosed you? Frighteningly high," April 17, 2014

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