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Misdiagnosis common in U.S. health care system

Pennsylvania residents depend on health care professionals to treat them whenever they are sick or injured. However, research shows that U.S. doctors make millions of diagnosis errors every year, wasting precious time and endangering lives.

According to a study published in the journal BMJ Quality & Safety in 2014, approximately 12 million Americans are affected by diagnostic-related medical mistakes annually. Of those errors, around 50% have the potential to cause harm. Meanwhile, a report by the Society to Improve Diagnosis in Medicine estimated that between 40,000 and 80,000 Americans die from diagnosis mistakes each year.

Misdiagnosis can harm patients by forcing them to endure unnecessary treatments, delaying the start of needed treatments and reducing their chances of a positive outcome. In order to prevent diagnosis mistakes, the National Academy of Medicine urges the health care community to facilitate teamwork between doctors, patients and families. It also recommends that hospitals ensure that health information technology is effectively applied, help doctors and medical staff identify and learn from diagnosis errors, improve medical education regarding the diagnosis process and develop a reporting and liability system.

Pennsylvania patients who suffer harm from misdiagnosis or another type of medical mistake might benefit from contacting a personal injury law firm to discuss their case. Attorneys could attempt to gather medical records and other evidence supporting a patient's claim. This documentation might then be used as the basis for a medical malpractice claim against the responsible doctor or hospital. If the lawsuit is successful, a patient may be awarded a settlement that covers his or her medical expenses, lost income, pain and suffering, mental anguish and other related losses.

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