A misdiagnosis occurs in at least 1 out of every 20 patient encounters in doctors' offices, according to a study by researchers at the Houston Veterans Affairs Center for Innovation and Quality, Effectiveness and Safety and the Baylor College of Medicine. This translates into at least 12 million patients being misdiagnosed each year and, of these errors, at least half of these errors have the potential to cause severe harm. The rate of misdiagnosis malpractice in the primary care setting is higher than in any other area of medicine.
Primary Care Malpractice claims against primary care physicians are more difficult to defend and lead to a higher percentage of paid claims. A recent study in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) reported a study of 7224 malpractice claims over a 5 year period in Massachusetts, with 551 arising from primary outpatient care. The study found that although primary care claims accounted for only 7.7% of claims, they were significantly more likely to be settled (35% vs. 20%) and/or result in a plaintiff's verdict (1.6% vs. 0.9%).
Lung cancer screening in high-risk individuals is now also recommended by the United States Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF), following other professional organizations that have recommended the same. There had been controversy as to whether or not screening by way of chest x-rays and CT scan provided a true benefit in the fight against this cancer. Based on an article in the Annals of Internal Medicine, annual screening with low-dose CT for people at high risk because of age and smoking history is now the recommended standard. High risk individuals are current and former smokers aged 55 to 80 years of age with a smoking history of 30 pack years or who have smoked in the last 15 years.
The risk of developing dementia was closely correlated with Framingham Risk scores in a recent study that looked at 10 year cognitive decline. The findings provide doctors with information about middle aged risk factors for cardiovascular disease and later cognitive decline. Not only is increased risk for stroke and cardiac disease predictable, but now future dementia risk is also measurable. The good news is that by identifying risk factors early and treating them both with physical activity and diet as well as medication where appropriate, these adverse outcomes can be decreased.
Breast cancer causes both immediate and long lasting injuries to women. A recent study in Australia reports that adverse changes to sexual well-being and intimacy are the most problematic issues for women after the diagnosis. The study examined changes to sexuality and intimate relationships in such patients. Decreases in sexual frequency, response and satisfaction were caused by a number of factors related to the disease and its treatment. Tiredness and pain, psychological distress and a poor body image develop. Medical and/or surgical menopause to stop hormonal stimulation of the cancer causes vaginal dryness, hot flushes and weight gain. These emotional and physical changes that occur cause feelings of unattractiveness, loss of femininity and have negative impact on relationships with spouses and partners.