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Lubbock County Medical Malpractice Attorney
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System looks at ways to track misdiagnosis rate

When Texas patients go to the doctor, they expect to receive correct answers and diagnoses that fit their conditions. A misdiagnosis can endanger the health of a patient, leading to disability or even death when incorrect treatments are applied or an underlying serious illness goes untreated.

Delayed treatment due to a misdiagnosis can lead to very negative outcomes. Because of this, a researcher from the Johns Hopkins Armstrong Institute for Patient Safety and Quality is working to introduce an approach to help hospitals monitor errors in diagnosis. The approach is called SPADE, or Symptom-Disease Pair Analysis of Diagnostic Error. Studies have shown that approximately 12 million people in the United States annually experience diagnostic errors or misdiagnosis. A full one-third of those cases lead to serious injuries.

The method is designed to go through hospital databases to examine common symptoms that lead to a doctor's visit along with potential misdiagnoses. It will look for patients whose early symptoms of heart disease, stroke or serious infection were dismissed as minor or superficial concerns requiring no treatment. The large-scale analysis would help to indicate the frequency of such errors and assist hospitals in working to avoid them before patients' health suffers.

SPADE will work best at tracking misdiagnoses of acute conditions for which the effects of a misdiagnosis, such as disability, hospitalization or death, are likely to be apparent within six months or a year. The method may not be as effective at tracking chronic conditions.

The failure to diagnose serious conditions, like cancer or heart disease, can cause permanent damage to a patient's life and health. People who have been misdiagnosed and given incorrect or insufficient treatment may have a claim for medical malpractice. A lawyer can help an individual assess his or her claim and represent him or her when seeking damages for the harms that have resulted.

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