After a visit to the doctors office you want to believe that his or her diagnosis is accurate because it means you now have a path for recovery. The question is how often do doctors misdiagnose a patient’s symptoms?
The May issue of The American Journal of Medicine has a collection of articles relating to misdiagnoses and suggest that for specialties like pathology, radiology, and dermatology the misdiagnosis is less than 5%, but in many other areas misdiagnosis can be in the range of 10-15%.
Because misdiagnosis is a sensitive topic it is rarely discussed or studied. The lack of information regarding misdiagnosis can result in a physician failing to realize that it occurs far more often than they think.
Misdiagnosis is partly the result of medical practitioners failing to use systems designed to aid their diagnostic decision making. Paul Mongerson, creator of a foundation to promote computer-based diagnostic strategies writes, “In my view, diagnostic error will be reduced only if physicians have a more realistic understanding of the amount of diagnostic errors they PERSONALLY make…I believe that the accuracy of diagnosis can be best improved by informing physicians of the extent of their own (not others) errors and urging them to personally take steps to reduce their own errors.”