According to a study published in the journal BMJ Quality and Safety, one in 20 adults may be misdiagnosed during outpatient visits and about half those medical mistakes could cause injury to the patient. Researchers say that misdiagnosis is a major problem that is often overlooked.

Researchers based their findings on data analysis from three earlier studies on outpatients in the U.S. They said the purpose of the study was to estimate the frequency in which patients are misdiagnosed.

Researchers defined misdiagnosis as “missed opportunities to make a timely or correct diagnosis based on the available evidence.”

According to the researchers, they analyzed unusual patterns of return visits and hospitalizations as well as cases in which patients weren’t scheduled follow-up appointments in a reasonable amount of time.

According to results from the analysis, approximately 12 million U.S. adults (roughly 5 percent) could be misdiagnosed during an outpatient visit; half of which could result in serious injury or worsened conditions.

“The numbers are a bit surprising when you put it at the population level,” said Dr. Hardeep Singh, lead author of the study and a researcher at the Veterans Affairs Center for Innovations in Quality, Effectiveness and Safety. “Diagnostic errors have been difficult to measure, but when you put these findings in context with the emerging evidence about this problem over the past few decades, it really makes sense.”

Experts noted that changes to the medical industry must be made to improve the frequency of misdiagnosis and other medical mistakes such as hospital acquired infection and wrong site surgeries.

One of the problems that may lead to misdiagnosis is the fact that physicians are usually rushed to make a diagnosis. So, when patients complain of symptoms such as stomach ache and diarrhea, a colon cancer diagnosis may be missed if his or her physician associated the symptoms with the stomach flu or another similar condition.

The frequency of these medical errors is pretty astonishing. At Berkowitz and Hanna LLC, we help people throughout the state of Connecticut recoup financial damages from medical mistakes such as misdiagnosis. To find out how we can help you, please contact us today.