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Researchers: Communication problems leading cause of misdiagnosis

On Behalf of | Mar 5, 2013 | Failure To Diagnose

Millions of people across the country routinely say that they do not like going to a clinic to see a doctor. The reasons for that certainly vary, but a number of studies and accounts readily reveal that many persons receiving out-patient care find the clinical experience to be somewhat rushed and frenetic, as well as incomplete.

That is, patients frequently view that things weren’t as thoroughly communicated or explored as they optimally might have been. The pace at medical clinics is typically fast, with physicians going back and forth to see patients in different rooms. Moreover, there is often a lack of continuity between patient visits; for example, multiple visits for what a patient feels might be a connected illness or condition can result in new doctors and nurses each time that are unfamiliar with the patient and his or her medical record.

That atmosphere — marked for some patients by communication breakdowns, proper tests not being conducted, lack of follow through on ordering and evaluating diagnostic screenings, overworked and time-stressed doctors, and a compromised continuity of care — leads to medical errors, and they frequently occur as misdiagnosis of a problem at the initial exam.

That is the pronounced finding of a recent study appearing in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine, which reports that primary care doctors make diagnostic mistakes often and spanning a wide range of matters. Researchers say that those diagnostic errors are missed or delayed diagnoses in nearly70 percent of all cases.

The study indicates that pneumonia is the most frequently missed diagnosis, followed by heart failure, kidney failure and various infections.

The main culprit leading to a failure to diagnose is lack of clear communication between the doctor and patient, for the reasons described above.

There is no easy fix for alleviating that problem, given the fast — even frenzied — pace of many clinics.

For improved outcomes in many instances, study researchers stress that doctors and patients simply need to focus on clear two-way communication.

“Getting the story right is important,” says lead study author Dr/ Hardeep Singh. “Following through with instructions is important.”

Source: WebMD, “Primary care doctors can make the wrong call,” Amanda Gardner, Feb. 25, 2013

•· In clinics and hospitals across the United States, failure to properly diagnose a serious medical condition often leads to dire patient outcomes, including disability and death. Our firm advocate diligently and with proven effectiveness on behalf of persons who have sustained injuries through negligence or medical malpractice. We invite readers to visit our Bergen County, New Jersey, Medical Malpractice page for relevant information.

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