Mayo Clinic study didn’t stay above fold, but could help save lives

needle

Photo of needle: Deborah Cartagena/CDC

Today’s media often make me think of gossipmongers nattering about and embellishing the same rumors day after day. Many stories that might make a difference in Americans’ lives don’t get the above the fold treatment because they don’t fit the clickbait model most outlets adhere to.

One story that warranted more attention and more discussion at policy levels was conducted by Mayo Clinic researchers. It’s important because the results could possibly help save lives.

Mayo researchers reviewed records of a group of patients referred by primary care providers to Mayo Clinic’s General Internal Medicine Division in Rochester [MN].

Mayo said in a news release, “The team compared the referring diagnosis to the final diagnosis to determine the level of consistency between the two and, thus, the level of diagnostic error.” The results were astounding

“In only 12 percent of the cases was the diagnosis confirmed.

In 21 percent of the cases, the diagnosis was completely changed; and 66 percent of patients received a refined or redefined diagnosis. There were no significant differences between provider types.”

I’d go beyond considering the value of a second opinion, and I’d recommend something I suggested in my nonfiction book published in 2005. A patient needs an advocate. Beyond that, obtain copies of your medical records and don’t be afraid to politely ask questions.

Also it’s a good idea to ask a healthcare provider if you’re getting a differential diagnosis—it’s okay to seek information about how certain your provider is about your illness or condition. You won’t automatically be told this—my family learned that the hard way. We discovered that treatment for a loved one spanning almost one year was based on a differential diagnosis that turned out to be incorrect. Had I not obtained records and reviewed them, our outcome would not have been a good one.

Healthcare has become dangerously politicized as government has taken control of much of that sector. Bean counters rule, and they aren’t concerned about your outcome, they are concerned with cost containment.

Mayo’s study warranted far more attention than it got.

(Commentary by Kay B. Day/April 14, 2017)

About Kay Day

Kay B. Day is a freelance writer who has published in national and international magazines and websites. The author of 3 books, her work is anthologized in textbooks and collections. She has won awards for poetry, nonfiction and fiction. Day is a member of the American Society of Journalists and Authors and the Authors Guild.

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One Response to Mayo Clinic study didn’t stay above fold, but could help save lives

  1. James Kress says:

    Medical diagnostics is an art, not a science. For many conditions, diagnosis by exclusion is used. How many of the cases cited by Mayo were of this type? They would be the most susceptible to change since they are very much subjective, i.e. an “art”.

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