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Misdiagnosis hits many Pennsylvanians every year

Diagnosis is one of the most important steps in treating a Pennsylvanians' health condition. When it comes to the diagnostic process, Pennsylvania residents are no different from most Americans. These people have a tendency to trust every word their doctors say about their condition. This is not surprising considering that doctors and other health care providers study for several years and acquire adequate experience before they are able to actually practice. Despite that, doctors are humans who are not exempt from committing errors, including failure to diagnose or misdiagnosis.

In fact, according to a 2014 study released in the British Medical Journal Quality and Safety, diagnostic errors may impact as many as 12 million American adults every year. That is approximately one out of every 20 adults. The researchers revealed that half of those medical errors are lethal to patients. Of the different medical conditions that are prone to misdiagnosis, the researchers listed some of the most commonly misdiagnosed diseases.

For one, heart ailments kill millions of people every year. Some of those deaths may be attributed to the doctor's misdiagnosis. According to the report, doctors may often miss the signs of a heart attack because the symptoms vary. Older adults may not have the same symptoms as younger people. Doctors may also misdiagnose fibromyalgia because it has symptoms of widespread muscle and joint pain. It may be mistaken as rheumatoid arthritis or lupus.

Thyroid disease, aortic dissection, and pulmonary embolism are also commonly misdiagnosed because of the similarity in the symptoms to other conditions. Unfortunately, cancer is included in the most common misdiagnosed disease list as well. A report from the Journal of Clinical Oncology states that a cancer misdiagnosis happens as much as 28 to 44 percent of the time. A national survey found that the most misdiagnosed type of cancers are breast cancer, lymphoma, melanoma and sarcomas.

Source: Everyday Health, "10 Commonly Misdiagnosed Conditions," Aug. 28, 2014

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