The failure of mental health practitioners to get a second opinion from a psychiatric specialist or clinic often leads to overdiagnosis, according to a new study performed at John Hopkins University. The study included more than 75 cases that had been referred to the Johns Hopkins Early Psychosis Intervention Clinic between February 2011 and July 2017. In each of those cases, the patient had been diagnosed with schizophrenia by a non-specialty physician.
When researchers took a fresh look at those 75 cases, they discovered that the majority of patients who had been diagnosed with schizophrenia actually suffered from anxiety. Although there are five symptoms used to diagnose schizophrenia, mental health practitioners typically placed greater emphasis on one or two symptoms to form their diagnosis. One of the more commonly relied-upon symptoms was auditory hallucinations, otherwise known as hearing voices. However, experts say that hearing voices is associated with many other conditions and doesn't necessarily indicate schizophrenia.
This new study suggests that the misdiagnosis and overdiagnosis of mental disorders may be a national problem. It also reveals how such a misdiagnosis can have far-reaching effects on a patient with a lesser condition than the one diagnosed. On the other hand, a misdiagnosis could result in a patient receiving insufficient or inappropriate treatment.
Failure to refer a patient to a specialist is only one of the mistakes that medical professionals sometimes make. Other mistakes include surgical errors, medication errors and hospital negligence. Patients who suffer as the result of a medical mistake may be able to receive compensation for their suffering by filing a lawsuit. However, such suits tend to be extremely complicated, and patients might find it necessary to enlist the services of a law firm with experience in medical malpractice.