Medical errors: 12 million patients misdiagnosed each year
(NaturalHealth365) In America, the average person relies on his or her physician to diagnose and treat medical conditions and health problems when symptoms arise. This conventional approach sends millions of people to emergency rooms, doctor offices and clinics across the country – every year. Sadly, at the same time, it’s understood that conventionally-trained physicians can give a wrong diagnosis about the health status of a patient – often causing a tremendous amount of unwanted side effects.
However, a study published in BMJ Quality and Safety confirms that it also happens in outpatient settings, such as doctor offices and clinics. In fact, the study suggests that 1 in 20 people who visit doctors each year – approximately 12 million – are misdiagnosed. Many receive treatment for non-existent conditions, whereas others fail to learn of serious illnesses in a timely way.
Medical errors can cause serious harm to patients
Doctors often blame misdiagnosis on symptoms that are vague and associated with many different types of conditions. Other medical errors – which are attributed to faulty diagnostic tests and human error – can even be deadly.
The truth is there is no excuse for a misdiagnosed patient. One wrong diagnosis can create an overwhelming emotional burden for both the patient and his or her family, not to mention produce tremendous physical and financial consequences.
Cases of misdiagnosed illnesses are not only prevalent, but they are also very serious. Being diagnosed with a disease or condition that is not really present often means being subjected to treatments that can cause dangerous side effects and patient harm. Often, the treatments are targeted at symptoms rather than the source, putting patients at the mercy of drugs and medications on a daily basis.
A person with frequent migraine headaches, for example, may be diagnosed with migraine syndrome and prescribed a litany of drugs, such as frovatriptan – which can cause serious cardiovascular consequences. This is especially unfortunate, as migraines are often an inflammatory response to internal or external triggers, such as allergens, spinal issues or toxins.
Wrong diagnosis can cost a small fortune and trigger premature death
In addition to causing serious and potentially fatal consequences, a wrong diagnosis can also prove very costly for patients. Even those who escape dangerous health side effects could pay exorbitant fees for unnecessary tests, treatments and medications.
Some people may be subject to hospitalization, while others may suffer lost productivity and needlessly miss work. False positive mammograms, for example, occur in approximately 11 percent of all screenings. Wrong or overdiagnosis can lead to invasive testing, mismanagement of the disease, unnecessary surgeries, and dangerous therapies that can add up to thousands of dollars.
Some of the most commonly misdiagnosed conditions include issues for which there are no tests to prove a diagnosis, but rather a process of elimination by which doctors narrow down symptoms to a particular condition. One example is irritable bowel syndrome, a term given to a set of symptoms that can often be resolved with dietary and lifestyle changes. Instead, many physicians prescribe expensive and dangerous medications, subjecting patients to side effects and expenses that could be avoided with a more natural approach.
Americans need to know that the conventional U.S. healthcare system has serious shortcomings. And, while modern medicine is great at ‘crisis intervention’ – its limitations are quite obvious in treating chronic disease conditions. Instead of relying on just one diagnosis (medical opinion) or treatment as the ‘only’ definitive answer for a particular condition, many patients could benefit from holistic healthcare that focuses on the entire body and its ailments rather than just one disease symptom.