Residents in Montana visit doctors for their healthcare needs. During such visits, most people hope that their healthcare provider is a competent, will use their medical information and apply medical knowledge to identify any illness that may afflict them. However, despite the progress medical science has made, human errors happen.

Patients might find it alarming to learn that a fifth all those who seek medical care in the U.S. risk being misdiagnosed when they go in for a checkup at a clinic or emergency room. As a result, it’s estimated that as many as 12 million Americans are affected by these medical errors very year. This recent finding and data was the conclusion of a medical study that tracked medical misdiagnosis errors in the U.S.

Not all of those that are misdiagnosed are negatively impacted however, but according to the patient safety expert that conducted the study, nearly half or about 6 million patients are potentially adversely affected annually. This means that patients with potentially serious illnesses such as chronic heart problems or lung cancer could walk away thinking that everything is fine with their health when in actuality it may not be. Failure to diagnose a medical condition could potentially leave the patient in a worsened condition.

The study cited many reasons why outpatient doctors can miss making correct diagnoses. One of the reasons was that time spent with patients was somewhat limited. When the symptoms that the patient was exhibiting are complex that made for a fairly hectic outpatient environment. Furthermore, many doctors apparently lack adequate support and the necessary technical help that could help free them to utilize effective clinical reasoning thoroughly and consistently.

What this means for patients is that the doctor is not always necessarily right. Rather than becoming a statistic, a patient can play a pivotal role in their own care by giving a complete and thorough list of symptoms during their initial visit with their doctor. One must however also take the initiative and be proactive about following up with their doctor after their medical exam. Nevertheless, in the event harm to a patient result due to negligent medical care then the patient may be entitled to compensation.

When a patient suffers due to the negligence of a medical provider, it is important that they understand their options. This could mean filing a medical malpractice claim in order to recover for the damage and injuries they suffered.

Source: KTAL, “Misdiagnosed: Doc’s mistakes affect 12 million a year,” Nick LaFave, April 16, 2014