1 in 20 patients misdiagnosed each year, survey finds

Every year, approximately one in every 20 Americans, or about 12 million people, receiving outpatient care are misdiagnosed, according to a new survey by SERMO.

SERMO — a social networking community for physicians — surveyed 2,493 physicians about how often they saw misdiagnoses in their practices. The largest groups of physicians surveyed, 40 percent, estimated that 11 percent to 20 percent of people receiving outpatient care are misdiagnosed per year.

Additionally, about half of the misdiagnoses could have potential consequences for the patient ranging from minor inconveniences to major complications.

A complete breakdown of estimated percent of misdiagnosed cases and physician responses can be found below:

1-10% outpatient misdiagnoses - 21% of surveyed physicians
11-20% outpatient misdiagnoses - 40% of surveyed physicians
21-30% outpatient misdiagnoses - 25% of surveyed physicians
31-40% outpatient misdiagnoses - 8 % of surveyed physicians
41-50% outpatient misdiagnoses - 3% of surveyed physicians
51% or more outpatient misdiagnoses - 3% of surveyed physicians

For the purpose of the study, a misdiagnosis was defined as an instance when a patient presents clear symptoms that were missed or not followed up on by the original physician.

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