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Greater collaboration could reduce rate of diagnostic errors

Study shows misdiagnoses are reduced when doctors work in teams

Diagnostic errors are one of the biggest and least understood problems facing the health care industry, with potentially millions of patients being misdiagnosed every year. According to Modern Healthcare, a recent study suggests that one way to reduce the number of misdiagnoses could be through greater collaboration among doctors and medical professionals. The study found that doctors who work in teams are far less likely to make a misdiagnosis compared to those who work alone.

Extent of the problem

According to NBC News, a study last year found that about 12 million people may be misdiagnosed every year, with about six million of those patients potentially suffering serious adverse effects due to their misdiagnosis. That study was among the first to attempt to quantify the extent of diagnostic errors in the American health care industry.

In fact, many experts believe that the study may have underestimated the true extent of the problem. They point out that measuring diagnostic error rates is particularly difficult given that there are different definitions of what constitutes a misdiagnosis. Furthermore, many misdiagnoses may ultimately go undetected or unreported, making them particularly difficult to track.

Teamwork reduces errors

A recent study suggests that the key to reducing diagnostic errors may be increased teamwork at hospitals and clinics. The study had two groups of fourth-year medical students watch videos of simulated patient cases and then make a diagnosis of those patients. One group of students made their diagnoses in pairs, while the other group of student worked as individuals.

The study found that those who worked in pairs got the correct diagnosis 68 percent of the time versus just 50 percent of the time among students who worked individually. Although the pairs took slightly longer to make a diagnosis, the study showed that in addition to being more accurate, they were also more confident in diagnosing patients. Researchers suggest that doctors who work in teams are able to correct each other's errors and cover one another's gaps in medical knowledge.

Misdiagnoses

Patients rely on medical professionals to provide them with informed and correct advice concerning their medical options. When patients receive a wrong diagnosis, the implications can be devastating and may result in precious time being lost that could have been used to treat a serious condition.

Anybody who has been the victim of a misdiagnosis should get in touch with a medical malpractice attorney right away. By consulting with such an attorney, injured patients will have a dedicated advocate fighting for their rights and interests in the aftermath of any alleged medical malpractice.