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The 5 Most Common Misdiagnoses Made in Emergency Rooms

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The U.S. health care system has been overwhelmed by the COVID-19 pandemic, making receiving proper treatment sometimes a challenge. But even before the virus' arrival and spread, patient care hasn't been foolproof. About 6% of the 130 million patients who visit hospital emergency rooms each year leave with a misdiagnosis, a study shows.

The report, which was published by the federal Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, analyzed 300 separate studies published from January 2000 to September 2021 and found that about 7.4 million misdiagnoses occur each year, resulting in preventable harm to an estimated 2.6 million patients. According to the study, the Top 5 conditions misdiagnosed are:

  1. Stroke
  2. Myocardial infarction (heart attack).
  3. Aortic aneurysm/dissection (a tear in the wall of the body's main artery).
  4. Spinal cord compression/injury
  5. Venous thromboembolism (blood clot in a vein).

Gallery: Medical Mistakes You Won't Believe

Strokes were missed 17% of the time, the study says, most often after patients described dizziness and vertigo as symptoms. Of those patients, 40% who experienced such symptoms had their strokes missed at first. The study showed 370,000 patients who were misdiagnosed wound up permanently disabled or dead.

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