Greater collaboration may bring down misdiagnosis incidences

Study shows working in pairs is more likely to result in correct diagnosis

A recent study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association suggests that doctors who collaborate with one another are more likely to make a correct diagnosis, according to Modern Health Care. The study showed that by working in teams, health practitioners were able to substantially reduce their misdiagnosis rates. The results come as concern is growing about misdiagnosis rates, which currently affect about one in every 20 adult patients at U.S. hospitals.

Collaboration the key

The study had 88 fourth-year medical students view videos of simulated patient cases and then asked the students to make a diagnosis. The students were divided into two groups: 60 worked in pairs, while the rest worked individually. The students were measured on how long it took them to make a diagnosis, their diagnosis accuracy, and their confidence in making a correct diagnosis.

Although the students who worked in pairs took longer to diagnose patients, they were also more accurate than those who worked alone. The teams made the correct diagnosis 68 percent of the time compared to just a 50 percent success rate by those who worked individually. Those working in teams also reported being far more confident in their diagnoses.

Misdiagnoses a big concern

Bringing down incidences of misdiagnoses is becoming a growing concern. As the Wall Street Journal reported last year, a misdiagnosis affects about five percent of all U.S. patients-the equivalent of about 12 million adult patients every year-and researchers advise that the actual rate may be much higher due to a limited amount of available data. About half of misdiagnoses prove harmful to patients, according to estimates.

In addition to greater collaboration, experts say that better communication between patients and doctors could also help bring down diagnostic error rates. Far too often patients are rushed through their time with their doctors, increasing the likelihood of a misdiagnosis. A lack of communication with a patient's previous health care providers can also lead to errors as a physician may make a diagnosis based on incomplete information.

Medical malpractice

When it comes to health care and patient safety, the margin for error is small. When doctors make decisions about a patient's health, those decisions can mean the difference between life and death. Unfortunately, as the above article shows, not all doctors take the time necessary to ensure their patients are receiving the attention and care they deserve.

When a medical mistake does happen, a patient's safety is put at risk. Anybody who has suffered because of alleged medical malpractice should contact a medical malpractice attorney immediately. A strong advocate for a patient's rights and interests can help pursue whatever claim a victim of potential malpractice may be entitled to.