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The most common categories of medical misdiagnosis

Illinois residents may not be aware about how big of an issue misdiagnosis is for health care providers. Despite the efforts to reduce diagnosing a patient with the wrong disease, the issue does not appear to be appreciably subsiding. The most common areas of misdiagnosis have not changed much throughout the years. A review of malpractice cases that are filed with regards to diagnostic errors shows cardiovascular diseases, cancers and infections to be the most typically misdiagnosed diseases.

Researchers will often conduct autopsies to attempt to better clarify misdiagnosis issues. However, newer infections have accounted for some of the misdiagnoses found during autopsies. Researchers have assessed data from 100 autopsies performed in three different years spanning a decade in-between. The results showed that diagnostic errors was cut in half during each decade. In 1972 there was a 30 percent rate of error and in 1992 there was a 14 percent rate of error. The missed diagnoses still fell into the same most common categories of cancers, cardiovascular diseases and infections.

Another study conducted in 2008 revealed the biggest single category of misdiagnosis was pulmonary embolism. The study took place from 1999 through 2006 and cited the next leading categories were tuberculosis, coronary artery diseases, neoplasms, ruptured aneurysms and cardiovascular diseases.

The overall rate of a misdiagnosis leading to a fatality is 17.2 percent. It is estimated that in general practice the rate of misdiagnosis is 10 percent. The rate of error varies and often depends on the type of medical situation. For example, a radiologist may misdiagnose a tumor at a higher rate than a general practitioner may misdiagnose cardiovascular disease. Similarly, the error rates of a neurosurgeon misdiagnosing a brain tumor may differ from the error rates of a neonatal specialist misdiagnosing a miscarriage.

Source: Medpage Today, "Misdiagnosis: Can It Be Remedied?", Joyce Frieden, December 17, 2014

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