Cancer Misdiagnoses Surprisingly Common

Joe Cantlupe, for HealthLeaders Media , February 7, 2013

Over the past several years, there have been efforts to explain the misdiagnosis dilemma, and its possible causes, such as:

  • Physicians' overconfidence in their diagnostic abilities
  • Misplaced complacency
  • Not enough time
  • Too many subspecialties
  • Not having enough patient information
  • Improper adherence to protocols
  • Incomplete medical records

Jerome Groopman, MD, in the book How Doctors Think and Your Medical Mind, writes that one of the problems is an over-reliance on evidence-based medicine. "Statistics cannot substitute for the human being before you: statistics embody averages, not individuals," he writes.

Although statistics are not the be-all-and-end-all, doctors certainly want and need more data if they are to deal with proper diagnoses, the survey shows. At least 38.5% of respondents, the largest segment, named "fragmented or missing information across medical information systems" as among the most significant barriers to accurately diagnose cancer.

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