MORE than 5,000 Brits were misdiagnosed in NHS hospitals last year, new data reveals.
Diagnostic errors are a known occurrence in healthcare and can sometimes have very tragic effects.
Some of the most commonly misdiagnosed conditions are heart attacks, Parkinson’s and strokes.
Yet so far, there is little data available which quantifies misdiagnoses in UK in terms of deaths and permanent disability.
This means the full scale of medical mistakes is hugely underestimated,according to a 2015 report by the National Academy of Medicine.
The latest data, retrieved from freedom of information (FOI) requests, published by the NHS suggests 5,430 patients applied for compensation claims between 2019 and 2021, after being misdiagnosed in hospital.
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However, this number is unlikely to reflect the true extent of misdiagnosis.
This is because not every patient will claim and this number only accounts for cases within the NHS – misdiagnosis is no less likely to occur in private hospitals.
Parkinson’s disease is the fastest growing neurodegenerative condition in the world with 145,000 Brits are currently living with it.
It's among one of the conditions which is most commonly misdiagnosed, despite being so prevalent, according to Parkinson’s UK,
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A study carried out by the charity found that 26 per cent patients are misdiagnosed with a different condition before receiving the correct Parkinson’s diagnosis.
Almost half of these patients (48 per cent) were given the wrong treatment, while 36 per cent received medication that was not needed and 6 per cent underwent unnecessary operations or procedures.
Out of the patients that received unnecessary treatment, over a third (34 per cent) reported that as a result of the unnecessary treatment, their health got worse.
It is important that Parkinson’s is diagnosed quickly and correctly so that patients can receive treatments to help reduce their symptoms, the charity says on its website.
Early diagnosis boosts their chances of effective treatment and a greater quality of life, it added.
How to spot it
Parkinson’s is typically associated with tremors, stiffness and slow movement, sleep problems, losing your sense of smell, and feeling depressed or anxious.
You may also notice your handwriting is smaller – something you might spot while making notes.
Heart attack misdiagnosis
There are more than 80,000 people going to hospital for heart attacks in England every year.
Catching the condition quickly is essential to making sure you can recover better.
The overall survival rate for people experiencing a heart attack is seven in 10, increasing to nine in 10 for those who get treated quickly.
However, the symptoms can be vague and can often be explained away as heartburn or indigestion.
Research suggests almost a third of people in England and Wales are being given the wrong initial diagnoses after having a heart attack.
Using the UK national heart attack register, the Leeds University study found that 29.9 per cent of patients had an initial diagnosis that was different from their final diagnosis.
How to spot it
Heart attack symptoms can vary, but according to the British Heart Foundation the most common sign of a heart attack is chest pain or discomfort that suddenly occurs and doesn’t go away.
It may feel like pressure, of a squeezing sensation which doesn't disappear, it explained
The pain may spread to your left or right arm or may spread to your neck, jaw, back or stomach.
You might also get sweaty, light headed and be short of breath.
A stroke is a life-threatening brain attack that can leave sufferers with long-term health complications.
Research from the British Medical Journal found strokes are missed in up to 14 per cent of patients who are admitted to hospital.
This is more common for patients who are suffering from nonspecific symptoms such as dizziness and nausea.
A stroke occurs hen the blood supply to part of your brain is cut off – without blood, the cells in your brain can be killed or suffer damage.
According to the Stroke Association, over 100,000 people suffer a stroke every year in the UK and they're responsible for over 38,000 deaths.
And of the 1.3 million people living in the UK who have survived a stroke – many living with disabilities.
Around one in eight people who suffer a stroke die within 30 days, so it is vital to get medical assistance as soon as possible – the sooner somebody is treated, the more likely they are to survive.
How to spot it
The FAST method – which stands for Face, Arms, Speech, Time – is the easiest way to remember the most common symptoms of stroke:
F = Face drooping – if one side of a person's face is dropped or numb then ask them to smile, if it's uneven then you should seek help.
A = Arm weakness – if one arm is weak or numb then you should ask the person to raise both arms. If one arm drifts downwards then you might need to get help
S = Speech difficulty – if a person's speech is slurred then this could be a sign of a stroke
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T = Time to call 999 – if a person has the signs above then you need to call 999 in the UK or 911 in the US for emergency care.
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