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Mobile apps can help avoid misdiagnosis

For patients in Illinois going into the hospital or seeking treatment for an unknown condition, the threat of misdiagnosis may loom as a major concern. There are a number of mobile applications that aim to protect patients and improve the diagnostic process. Despite the growth in the technology, many have not been evaluated, and their impact on patient outcomes is unknown. One app that has been studied is the PTT Advisor, developed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

In a study conducted at Baylor University, researchers developed eight stories based on real, difficult medical cases that would require doctors to order laboratory tests and make diagnoses. They provided two options for doctors in the study: using the PTT Advisor app or using their typical supports for medical decisions. The study included 46 participating doctors at seven healthcare facilities, and each solved four cases using the app and four using their typical process.

During the study, the researchers found that use of the app increased the likelihood of an accurate diagnosis. Avoiding misdiagnosis and improving accuracy is an important public health goal as 5 percent of Americans receive a misdiagnosis for a health problem each year. The researchers said that physicians were 13 percent more likely to make accurate decisions about testing and diagnosis when using the app.

Whether they make use of mobile apps or more traditional methods, doctors are relied upon for key decisions about diagnosis and treatment. When a diagnosis is mistaken or not made at all, the consequences can be devastating for patients, especially when a progressive disease like cancer is involved. Patients who have been misdiagnosed and suffered a worsened medical condition as a result may wish to consult with a medical malpractice attorney. A lawyer may be able to review the case and provide advice about the next steps that can be taken.