According to the most recent World Health Organization reports, approximately five patients die every minute as the result of inappropriate medical treatment. It is understood that 2 out of 5 cases of patient harm occur while providing primary and ambulatory medical assistance and, most times, they arise from misdiagnosing, drug prescribing errors, and drug misuse.
Diagnosing a disease is a complex process that includes several crucial stages such as conducting an initial examination, gathering, and analyzing the patient’s family history, ordering a series of tests, evaluating the obtained results, and, finally, confirming or discarding the provisional diagnosis. At each of these stages, the doctor has to be vigilant, meticulous, and knowledgeable, otherwise, they risk overlooking something important.
An erroneous diagnosis can have very grave implications for a person’s health and significantly reduce their chances of fast and full recovery. When misdiagnosed with a disease that they do not have, patients cannot receive proper and timely treatment. At the very best, the medicine prescribed by the physician just will not work and, in extreme cases, it can complicate the patient’s condition, while failing to treat the main problem. Such loss of valuable time may even cost some people their lives.
Reasons behind false diagnoses vary from place to place. They depend mainly on the quality of healthcare services within a particular country or even region, availability and affordability of medicines, professional training levels of medical workers, access to diagnostic equipment, etc.
However, the most obvious reasons are:
- Insufficient professional training of doctors or their hesitation to seek other specialists’ advice.
- Failure to perform additional tests and medical procedures that could clarify the diagnosis.
- Lack of necessary diagnostic equipment in hospitals and poorly supplied laboratories.
- Understaffing in qualified medical workers, which results in their decreased attention and impaired concentration.
Here are 5 most frequently misdiagnosed conditions that can cause severe harm to patients.
With so much information available nowadays, cancer is still among the most commonly misdiagnosed illnesses. In a situation where early diagnostics improves the patient’s chances of survival, a failure to detect and recognize cancer can be fatal. Depending on its type, cancer is frequently misdiagnosed as an inflammation, cyst, or other less adverse conditions. It often happens due to doctors’ reluctance to gather more information on the patient, run additional tests, or refer the patient to another professional on time.
Being the most widespread cause of death in the world, many heart conditions are still easily overlooked especially in younger patients. Their signs are similar to those of heartburn, angina, bronchitis, and pneumonia, so it takes a meticulous and observant specialist to conduct a thorough examination, perform all necessary tests and take into consideration every little detail to diagnose this problem.
Although primarily found in mid-aged people, the condition is getting younger year by year. Its symptoms include muscle aches, joint pains, problems with sleep, and fatigue. Since currently there is no specific test that can confirm the diagnosis, doctors often mistake it for rheumatoid arthritis, depression, or even lupus.
Statistically, 9 to 30% of all strokes get misdiagnosed as something else. Usually, they are mistaken for seizures, migraines, ear conditions, and sinus infections. When it comes to strokes, every single minute is crucial and can mean the difference between survival and death of a patient.
A bacterial infection that is transmitted via tick bites, characterized by muscle pains, headache, fever, diarrhea, and sometimes a rash. Many doctors often struggle to identify the disease in the early stages because it often looks like a respiratory virus or an allergy. Although the treatment is relatively simple and includes antibiotics therapy, it can sometimes take up to a few months to confirm the diagnosis.
Measures are being taken to reduce these grim statistics and improve the quality of healthcare services worldwide. Thus, WHO officials are appealing to the world community and governments to take urgent steps aimed to enhance patient safety, by increasing financial support of this sector, promoting better and more informed cooperation between doctors and patients, optimizing the existing error reporting devices, and providing more training and skill development opportunities for healthcare workers.
How Do Online Pharmacies Help Improve the Quality of Healthcare Services?
Once the patient’s diagnosis has been set, the attending physician decides on the treatment plan that will be the most suitable and effective.
Today, with technology being so advanced, people who are feeling poorly do not need to leave their houses and go to a nearby pharmacy to get the prescribed drug. It takes a few clicks or taps on your smartphone screen to locate the needed medicine, place an order, and have it delivered to your home within just an hour! Most online pharmacies are open 24/7 and can boast a very intuitive user-friendly interface so that even older people who are not very tech-savvy can easily find their way around.
What are the advantages of online pharmacies?
- It saves time and eliminates the need for traveling a long distance to get what you want. Instead of waiting in queues or running around town looking for a rare medicine, you can buy it all from the comfort of your own home. It is all there at your very fingertips!
- You can get the best price offer. There are hundreds, even thousands, of online drugstores to choose from. Their functionality allows customers to compare prices for a particular drug across different stores and get the best deal.
- Online pharmacies offer a much wider range of medicines and healthcare-related products than brick-and-mortar drugstores.
- Many online drugstores hire skilled pharmacologists and specialty doctors to advise their customers on selecting just the right medication via a chat. It is especially convenient for people who live in remote locations and cannot go and see a doctor whenever there is a need.
- Some online pharmacies allow purchasing medicines without asking for a prescription. It might not be a good thing, but it helps people save money on a costly visit to the doctor’s office to renew the prescription. However, it is only possible in situations where the patient has previously consulted a specialist and is aware of how a particular drug works.
Here are a few things to remember if you want to stay on the safe side:
- Do not try to diagnose or treat yourself without seeing a doctor first.
- Do not keep your attending physician in the dark about any medications you are taking if they have not been prescribed by them.
- Do not hesitate to ask a few questions about the medication to make sure you are getting the right one.
Despite some concerns over possible risks associated with buying a fake drug, or having your credit card information stolen, online pharmacies are quickly growing in popularity, making the whole process less exhausting and more enjoyable.