Most residents of New Jersey and the rest of the United States place a good deal of trust in their physicians, and with good reason. To become a doctor in the first place, one must undergo many years of schooling. Once an individual becomes a practicing doctor, patients typically expect that he or she has the training and knowledge needed to perform a good job.
Regrettably, though, doctors, like all professionals, are not perfect; they are not immune to making mistakes. The stakes are sky-high when physicians make errors, though. When those errors involve misdiagnoses, they can wind up having a serious impact on a patient’s condition and prognosis. Just how common are medical misdiagnoses, and is there anything you can do to advocate for yourself and avoid falling victim to a medical misdiagnosis?
A prevalent problem
According to AARP, one study of patients who chose to seek second opinions after receiving serious medical diagnoses revealed that primary care doctors misdiagnosed more than 20% of patients. Another 66% of patients who received serious diagnoses, meanwhile, had received partial diagnoses, but not totally accurate, leading their diagnoses to undergo modification somewhere down the line. The same study revealed that only about 12% of patients who received serious medical diagnoses received accurate diagnoses upon visiting their primary care physicians.
Why second opinions are critical
Safety advocates believe that seeking a second medical opinion is essential anytime you receive a serious medical diagnosis. Because there are about 10,000 different diseases and only several hundred symptoms to diagnose them, medical misdiagnosis is a common and unfortunate problem. Also, current estimates suggest that about 10% of American patient deaths result because of diagnostic errors, again highlighting just how much of an issue medical misdiagnosis is in today’s health care field.
In many cases, simply having a second set of eyes assess you and your symptoms can be enough to spot misdiagnoses. Thus, pursuing a second opinion anytime you receive a serious diagnosis, or anytime you feel uncomfortable with a doctor’s recommended course of treatment, could prove highly beneficial.