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Diagnostic errors affect 1 in 10 patients with “Big Three”

Mississippi residents may have heard about the medical field’s “Big Three.” That is the three medical conditions that tend to be misdiagnosed the most. The Big Three comprise vascular events, cancers and infections. Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine researchers examined how often individuals with a Big Three condition were misdiagnosed. The following are the results.

Firstly, the study involved five conditions in each of the major three categories. Cancers included melanoma and breast and lung cancer. Vascular events included strokes and heart attacks. Infections included sepsis and spinal abscesses. It turns out that nearly 1 in 10 patients with a Big Three condition are misdiagnosed.

The rate of misdiagnosis ranged from 2.2% for heart attack patients to 62.1% for spinal abscess patients. Some misdiagnosis rates are deceptively low. For example, 8.7% of stroke patients are misdiagnosed, but strokes are more widespread than, say, spinal abscesses. Researchers found that physicians haven’t made it a priority to promptly diagnose any of the 15 analyzed conditions with the sole exception being heart attacks.

Certain infections and vascular events had a high misdiagnosis rate because of their rarity. Inadequate screening and treatment may have been behind a great many of the cancer misdiagnoses.

Diagnostic errors, be they misdiagnoses or delayed diagnoses, can cause serious harm. Patients’ true conditions may worsen, and they may be hurt by having the wrong treatment performed or taking the wrong medications. Under medical malpractice law, such errors can form the basis for a claim if they were clearly the result of negligence. Victims may want to consult with a lawyer to see if there is any strong evidence of the doctor’s failure to live up to an objective standard of care. An attorney may help with negotiations too.

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