The cost of a medical misdiagnosis

It’s no secret that misdiagnosis in the medical industry is extremely common. So common, in fact, that if you’re a member of a group health plan, someone on your plan has probably recently been wrongly diagnosed. About 12 million people are misdiagnosed each year. And this makes life much more expensive. Think about it – if you’ve gotten care for the wrong illness, your initial ailment would have gotten worse during that time, because it’s gone untreated.

Now you’re stuck with paying the bill for the wrong treatment and receiving new treatment.

How serious is the issue?

About 10% of patient deaths are due to a wrong diagnosis. Couple that with the with the fact that 1/3 of nationwide healthcare spending is wasted, and you’ve got a serious problem on your hands. That means that if your corporate health plan costs $1 million per year, over $300,000 of that is pure waste. That leaves significant room for your health plan to save money, and could be the reason that your health plan gets a huge cost increase at your next renewal.

Its not fun to talk about, but a misdiagnosis can be a serious threat to your life. Believe it or not medical errors like a misdiagnosis are actually the 3rd leading cause of death in the US. Unfortunately a significant amount of errors go unreported, so it is impossible to identify the exact extent of the problem.

What can you do to avoid a wrong diagnosis?

At the end of the day, your health plan and employee opulation are being impacted by errors like misdiagnosis. With a reasonable amount of education and preparation, you can mitigate these events and keep your plan affordable and accessible to everyone.

  • Get a second opinion – One of the best things that you can do to avoid an error is to get a second opinion. Especially if the original diagnosis calls for significant treatment, such as a surgery or inpatient procedure.
  • See the right doctor – A lot of people see a GP (general practitioner) or their family doctor and end up leaving with the wrong treatment. This isn’t because the doctor isn’t qualified or doesn’t know what they’re doing. Its because not every doctor can know everything and it is really helpful to make sure that you’re seeing the right person for the right thing. If you’re a Trig member, you can check out the levels of care for more on that.
  • Write down and plan your symptoms – If you’re prepared to chat with your doctor about what you’re experiencing you can help them make a more accurate assessment. Its that simple.
  • Question your doctor – If you’re unsure about something or if you’re not comfortable with what you can expect going forward (as far as treatment and how you should be feeling), keep on asking until you’re satisfied. Studies show that people are generally uncomfortable questioning their doctor. Ask things like “when should i see you again” or “is there a specialist that you’d recommend”. This is entirely ok to do and could end up saving you and your health plan a lot of money.
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