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The prevalence of medical misdiagnosis

Many people in Seattle and across Washington visit emergency rooms and outpatient clinics seeking a medical diagnosis and treatment from healthcare professionals. People trust these knowledgeable professionals to help them in their time of medical need. However, what people do not consider is the fact that physicians, nurses and surgeons work long hours in chaotic environments, and as a result, may give patients the wrong diagnosis regarding their medical conditions.

According to research published in BMJ Quality & Safety, doctors misdiagnose or fail to diagnose at least 12 million patients in emergency room and outpatient clinic settings throughout the U.S. each year. At least half of those patients run the risk of serious harm because of the erroneous diagnosis. These numbers are thought to be even higher, as some cases go undetected and/or unreported by professionals.

There are several factors that contribute to this form of medical negligence. In these types of medical settings, physicians may not have a complete medical background of their patients. This can make it difficult to look at prior signs of illness or previous treatment plans. Furthermore, the fast-paced environment limits the amount of time doctors spend with each patient. Doctors and patients may feel rushed, and are not given the appropriate amount of time with each patient.

Medical misdiagnosis or failure to diagnose patients can have major consequences for patients. While the wrong condition is being treated with medication or therapy the patient does not need, the real condition may continue to worsen. Furthermore, unnecessary treatments can be costly and painful.