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Study points out incidents of a fatal failure to diagnose

When a person in Illinois goes to the doctor for a diagnosis of an issue or for treatment, there's an expectation that the doctor will make the correct assessment and provide a treatment option for the particular problem. Unfortunately, that does not always happen. Recent information indicates that the majority of people will receive an incorrect or delayed diagnosis at some point. Some of these incidents will result in severe injury or death.

The study showed that medical negligence and a lack of attention paid to the errors that have been made can lead to significant harm. As treatments grow more complicated, the numbers are expected to worsen. The report referenced several examples, including a 51-year-old woman who requested that she be referred for a stress test due to the history of heart disease in her family. On the day she was set to go for the test, she died from coronary artery disease. A 33-year-old woman had a blood clot in her lungs that was misdiagnosed as asthma. She also died. A 55-year-old man had an X-ray read incorrectly and died of misdiagnosed pneumonia.

These are just some of the examples of a fatal failure to diagnose. Many factors are referenced as to why these errors are made. They include a lack of communication to a tacit decision not to admit to having made a mistake. The researchers understand that it can be hard to get an exact gauge on the number of errors because of a lack of reporting and the number of fatal mistakes that no one realized even happened. A tactic that is recommended is to have organizations that provide accreditation for health care companies tell facilities to disclose how and why patients are being diagnosed. Another idea is for the federal government to get involved and look at the autopsies to see if the cause of death was linked to the diagnosis.

A large percentage of patients being treated for cancer - 87 percent - were reluctant to express concerns about their treatment. Considering the risks to the patient when a negligent doctor makes a mistake, it is important for a patient who was affected, or the family of a victim who died, to know how to ensure that a full investigation will be conducted into the case.

Source:, "Study: No easy cure for sometimes fatal doctor errors," John Bonifield, Sep. 22, 2015

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