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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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