It turns out that those of us who go to the doctor when we get sick will be the victim of misdiagnosis at least once in our lives. That is the conclusion of a new report that calls for major changes to the process of examining and diagnosing patients, as discussed by the Associated Press.
The report, released by the Institute of Medicine, estimates that 5 percent of adults who seek outpatient medical care every year have their condition misdiagnosed. That may be relatively rare (though not that rare), but over the years and decades, this means that the majority of patients will be misdiagnosed by a doctor at some point.
Diagnostic errors are the most common form of medical malpractice to lead to a payment to victims, suggesting that misdiagnosis is indeed quite common.
The IOM suggests that things need to change to reverse this trend. The organization suggests making patients a more active part of the team. Health care advisors should listen to patients' questions, hear their complaints and provide them copies of their test results, IOM contends.
Also, in cases when a second (or third) opinion finally gets the diagnosis rights, the doctor who made the diagnosis should contact the previous physicians who got it wrong to let them know. This would help doctors learn, so they won't repeat the same mistakes, an IOM committee member said.
It is unsettling to think that there is a 5 percent chance our doctor will misdiagnose us this year. Some diagnostic errors are fairly harmless, but often they lead to unnecessary pain, debilitation and even death.