Victims of medical malpractice are protected through the legal process. According to a study done by BMJ Quality & Safety, about 12 million adults in the United States who seek outpatient care are misdiagnosed by their doctors. The researchers who conducted the study stated that in at least half of those cases, the misdiagnosis had the potential to result in serious harm. Previous studies had made hospitals the focus of their study, but this one found that patients seeking outpatient care may also be at risk. The number of victims impacted represents 5 percent of all outpatients in the U.S.
In reaching their conclusions, researchers analyzed diagnosis and follow-up visits. Because researchers concluded that one half of misdiagnosis situations had the potential to result in serious harm, this means that approximately 6 million outpatient victims are impacted each year by the misdiagnosis figures reported in the study. A previous study found that the most common causes of misdiagnosis include problems related to ordering diagnostic tests; errors made by doctors interpreting test results; and inaccurate medical histories.