Two years ago, the National Academy of Medicine published a groundbreaking report indicating that not only will the majority of people receive an incorrect or delayed diagnosis at least once during their lifetime, but that roughly 12 million people -- or close to 5 percent of adults seeking outpatient care -- are misdiagnosed every year.
Furthermore, previous research has found that diagnostic errors are behind 6-17 percent of adverse hospital events, 10 percent of hospital deaths, and present in 10-20 percent of all cases.
As enlightening -- and frightening -- as these numbers are, the study authors cautioned that additional study was needed to identify the scope of the problem.
Coincidentally, a group of researchers at the renowned Mayo Clinic recently published a study on this exact issue in the latest edition of the Journal of Evaluation in Clinical Practice, and the results were no less astounding.
As part of the study, researchers retrospectively examined the cases of 286 patients, the majority of whom were female and younger than 64. Here, these patients sought a second opinion with the Mayo Clinic's internal medicine department, one of the best in the nation, after initially being seen by their primary-care physician, physician assistant or nurse practitioner.
Asking to be seen by Mayo physicians, noted the researchers, suggests the underlying conditions were indeed serious.
They found that the initial diagnoses were "better defined/refined" by the second opinion in 67 percent of the cases, the second diagnoses were "distinctly different" from the initial diagnoses in 21 percent of the cases, and the diagnoses were the same in only 12 percent of the cases.
The researchers, who refrained from casting blame for the seemingly high rate of misdiagnoses, indicated that further study was needed, and that second opinions are always a viable options for certain patients.
Indeed, they indicated that a second opinion is a worthwhile endeavor -- from both a medical and financial perspective -- whenever a patient is diagnosed with a serious medical condition (i.e., cancer), informed they need surgery or not responding to medication as they should be.
If you've been seriously injured or lost a loved one due to a misdiagnosis or any other manner of what you believe was medical negligence, consider speaking with a skilled legal professional to learn more about your rights and your options.