While most people trust their doctors, they may not realize that medical professionals in Albuquerque are just as prone to mistakes as anyone else. In fact, new studies are showing that misdiagnoses may happen more often previously thought. ABC News reports that cancer is one disease that is frequently misdiagnosed, with methods for labeling the disease remaining the same as they have for the last 50 years. For the 1.3 million people each year who are told by their doctor that they have cancer, a mistake could cost them their lives.
After examining samples from over 6,000 cancer patients, researchers at John Hopkins Hospital made the startling discovery that 20 percent of the confirmed cases were classified as the wrong type of cancer. Additionally, misdiagnosis was reported in as many as one of every 71 cases. The mistakes can occur when a biopsy slide has cell patterns that mimic certain types of cancer, but are actually harmless. These misjudgments not only cause stress and worry, but sometimes even lead to surgeries that are unnecessary. Patients can also be diagnosed with a less aggressive type of cancer than they actually have, leading doctors to delay or forego lifesaving treatments and medications.
Boston Magazine reports that many doctors believe part of the problem is outdated resources and tools for tumor and genetic testing, radiology and pathology. While the mistake is often contributed to the ineptitude of the doctor, experts say this is rarely the case.
Not only is misdiagnosis a problem for the patient, it is also a concern for taxpayers. These medical mistakes cost the U.S. medical system nearly $700 billion every year. Some doctors suggest that hospitals should be incentivized to research the problem and gather data concerning the issue.