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What leads a doctor to a misdiagnosis?

One source estimates that around 98,000 people die from an incorrect medical diagnosis each year. A medical liability insurance company, MMIC Group, reviewed claims it received between 2010 and 2013. Of the 2,000 claims reviewed, 313 were attributed to misdiagnosis. The question that may be on the minds of Missouri readers is why doctors fail to properly diagnose a patient's condition.

Some incidents are blamed on faulty hospital or clinic practices and equipment issues. For instance, if an imaging scanner is not working properly, the results can mislead a doctor. Miscommunication and substandard record keeping are also blamed since doctors may not have all the information they need in order to make a correct diagnosis.

Outside of these issues, many doctors make errors due to their thought processes. A doctor may latch onto a diagnosis and fail to pay attention to other or changing symptoms that negate the original thought. In other cases, a doctor will spend time attempting to "prove" that a diagnosis is correct and will fail to consider other options in order to identify the correct ailment or condition.

Regardless of the reason, a misdiagnosis can quickly put a Missouri patient's life in jeopardy. For example, catching certain types of cancers early dramatically increases the prognosis for survival. If the wrong diagnosis is made early on, life-saving treatments may not be given in time. If this or any other diagnosis causes a patient serious and/or permanent injury, a medical malpractice claim may be appropriate. Establishing that a doctor did not meet the acceptable standards of care could result in an award of damages to address current and future medical needs as well as other monetary losses.

Source: medicalxpress.com, "When doctors get it wrong: Misdiagnoses are getting a closer look", Jeremy Olson, Sept. 4, 2015

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