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Misdiagnosis and outpatient settings

Receiving outpatient care is an incredibly common thing. Every year, around 80 percent of America's adult population receives medical care in an outpatient setting, such as a doctor's office.

Given this, it is not at all surprising that a great many diagnoses are given in outpatient settings. This makes the conclusions of a recent study rather alarming. The study concluded that misdiagnoses are rather common in outpatient environments.

Based on data from three previous studies, the study estimated that the misdiagnosis rate for outpatient care patients is a little over 5 percent. If this estimate is correct, around 12 million U.S. adults a year are receiving misdiagnoses in outpatient settings.

One of the reasons this estimate is so alarming is the truly harmful results misdiagnoses can have. The lead author of the study has estimated that around half of outpatient care misdiagnoses have the potential to expose a patient to serious harm. A person's life can be changed forever by harms caused by a misdiagnosis.

Thus, one hopes that efforts are taken to help reduce the occurrence of misdiagnoses at doctors' offices and other outpatient environments. What sort of efforts do you think should be taken to further this goal?

It is important for individuals who have been misdiagnosed in an outpatient setting and who have consequently suffered harm to know that, depending on the circumstances, they may have legal options for monetary recovery. Medical malpractice attorneys can investigate whether an outpatient care misdiagnosis was the result of a negligent mistake by a health care provider and whether legal action can be pursued in relation to the incident.

Source: Reuters, "About 12 million U.S. outpatients misdiagnosed annually: study," Curtis Skinner, April 17, 2014

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