Misdiagnosis of medical conditions affects millions of Americans every year. It results in physical and emotional suffering for patients and their families, as well as, injury and loss of life. In addition, it wastes billions of dollars in needless medical expenses.
According to The American Journal of Medicine, 15 percent of all medical cases in developed countries are misdiagnosed. A Mayo Clinic Proceeding found this number to be even higher, with 26 percent of all medical cases being misdiagnosed. A study cited in the Journal of Clinical Oncology found that for some types of cancer, the misdiagnosis rate is as high as 44 percent.
In dollars, this means that nearly one-third of all healthcare spending in the U.S. is wasted on treatment for the wrong medical condition. The total amount spent on healthcare in the U.S is $2.7 trillion dollars annually. That’s almost one trillion dollars of wasted healthcare spending a year.
Five Reasons Why Rates of Misdiagnosis are so High.
In an article featured in the Seattle Times, Evan Falchuck, vice chair of Best Doctors, Inc. explains the five main reasons why misdiagnoses are so common within our healthcare system.
- Our healthcare system is fragmented. As such, there are many opportunities for healthcare providers to delay or misread tests or to order the wrong test entirely.
- Healthcare practitioners are overconfident in their diagnostic abilities.
- Medical training teaches healthcare practitioners to reach treatment decisions based on statistically proven data, which can lead to misdiagnosis.
- Healthcare practitioners work under stringent time restraints. On average, physicians spend approximately 10 to 15 minutes with a patient.
- There are a growing number of subspecialties which healthcare practitioners practice, which limit their in-depth knowledge of other potential conditions a patient may have.
Your healthcare provider may be legally liable for misdiagnosing your condition.
Last September, a Georgia woman was awarded $5 million dollars in damages after a misdiagnosis caused her to have both legs amputated. In November of 2008, the woman was taken to an emergency room after complaining of intense pain in her legs and coldness in her feet. She was diagnosed with a cellulitis-related infection. No tests or procedures were conducted to determine whether the woman had blockages in the arteries of her legs, despite the fact that the nurse practitioner treating her observed a diminished pulse in her legs. The woman suffered a heart attack several hours later due to the lack of blood flow and pressure and had to have her legs amputated below the knees. She sued her healthcare providers for gross negligence and prevailed.
If you or a loved one have been misdiagnosed by your healthcare provider, you should speak to an attorney immediately. An Atlanta medical malpractice attorney can ensure that your legal rights are protected and that you receive the compensation you deserve.