Study reveals 12 million Americans affected by misdiagnoses yearly

Have you ever made a doctor's appointment because you were concerned about a medical issue, only to be rushed through the appointment without being allowed the time to ask all of your questions? Unfortunately, this scenario is common in West Virginia and across the United States, as doctors' schedules are busy and often do not allow for sufficient time with each patient.

Of course, when a doctor does not address all of your concerns or take the time to complete a thorough examination, the consequences can be disastrous. According to a recent study published in BMJ Quality and Safety, outpatient medical appointments lead to a high number of misdiagnoses every year in the U.S.

The researchers found that 12 million people in the United States are affected by misdiagnoses following an outpatient doctor's visit every year. Of those, they estimate that approximately one-half - 6 million people - suffer harm because of the inaccurate or delayed diagnosis.

In total, the researchers found that 5 percent of people who see a doctor on an outpatient basis will be affected by a missed diagnosis. Medical errors were only counted if the physician could have made an accurate diagnosis based on the information available at the time of the outpatient visit.

Be proactive when you go to the doctor's office

Your doctor should take the appropriate steps to ensure he or she is able to make an accurate diagnosis following your outpatient visit. Nevertheless, the statistics show physicians do not always do so. Consequently, it is wise to follow a few guidelines when attending an outpatient doctor's appointment.

Whenever you go to the doctor, you should come prepared. Consider writing down the symptoms from which you are suffering and a list of questions in advance. Often, if the appointment feels rushed, you will forget many of the important issues you wished to address. Having a written list of concerns will prevent you from leaving the appointment with unasked questions.

During the appointment, take care to describe the symptoms from which you are suffering; however, make efforts not to draw your own conclusions about the cause of the symptoms.

If you or a loved one has been harmed due to a diagnostic error made by a physician, you may be entitled to recover damages to account for the injuries caused by the mistake. In such situations, you would be wise to seek the counsel of a knowledgeable personal injury attorney, who will be able to advise you regarding the best course of action.