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Misdiagnosis is More Common in Women Than in Men, Here’s the Scary Reason Behind It

When you’re sick or feeling under the weather, it’s normal to consult an expert in hopes of getting an accurate diagnosis of your condition. When you’ve been experiencing on-and-off headaches or body pains, you again go to the hospital.

When you’re feeling paranoid of the bump on your knee that’s been there for quite a while now, you turn to a physician. The bottom line is, whenever something’s off, you may skip combing the internet for answers and instead head on to the doctor, who is licensed to give you a prognosis and a diagnosis.

But bear in mind that they are human beings as well who are bound to make mistakes at one point in their career.

Misdiagnosis can cause serious harm to the patient

We all squirm at the thought: it’s a person’s health we’re talking about here, so experts can’t afford to have a blunder. One wrong move can make a massive adverse effect on the patient and although we imagine that this is a rarity, it’s actually more common than we ever thought.

What’s even more alarming is that, misdiagnosis is the main culprit in one-third of the malpractice issues that resulted in permanent disability and worse, death. Yup, you read that right, it’s one of the most harmful errors that could ever happen in the field of medicine.

‘Big Three’

According to a John Hopkins University research that looked at 55,000 malpractice claims to check the pattern of misdiagnosis, about 74.1 percent or almost three quarters of the most harmful misdiagnoses revolved around three main health conditions, which is infection (13.5 percent), vascular events (22.8 percent), and cancer (37.8 percent), if combined, the researchers call it the “Big Three.”

These three were broken down into 15 conditions, with lung cancer, stroke, and sepsis leading the list. Others are meningitis, heart attacks, pneumonia, blood clot in lungs and legs, skin cancer, prostate cancer, and breast cancer.

According to one study, misdiagnosis accounts for some 80,000 deaths annually

Where It Mostly Happens

The study published in Diagnosis also shed light on how misdiagnosis can greatly affect people. In the United States, between 40,000 to 80,000 deaths per year are linked to misdiagnosis.

It also found that the error mostly occurred in an outpatient setting and emergencies. It is worth noting that more than half of the cases analyzed in this research happened to women, which is not news at all.

Gender Imbalance

Women are more likely to be misdiagnosed than men

Another UK study proved that women are 50 percent more likely to receive an incorrect diagnosis after a heart attack than men while another research said females are 33-percent more likely to be misdiagnosed after a stroke than their male counterparts. Another alarming study came from Yale University that showed girls’ pain is taken less seriously than boys’.

Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine neurology professor David Newman-Toker said this study will help us see where there’s a need for improvement and in turn would reduce the harmful impacts on the patients.

The most common cause of incorrect diagnosis is a failure in clinical judgment. The researchers suggest that to answer this, there should be an improvement in education and teamwork and the use of technology for the diagnosis.

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