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Misdiagnosis could lead to improper antibiotic use

In hospitals and other health care facilities in Florida and around the country, antibiotics are sometimes being improperly used. This is often caused by a misdiagnosis or when the diagnosis is indeterminate. The improper use of antibiotics may have harmful effects. Factors that contribute to the misdiagnosis on the part of practitioners include lack of experience, inadequate knowledge of the side effects, fatigue, a patient's previous diagnosis and lack of sleep. It is important that the problem be addressed and changes made to improve antibiotic use in health care.

Besides possibly causing harm to the patient, incorrect antibiotic use can decrease the effectiveness of the drugs and raise the cost of health care. A recent study found that 56 percent of U.S. hospital inpatients receive antibiotics. Close to half of these patients received an inappropriate antibiotic therapy. Often, this is due to an incorrect diagnosis and leads to delayed treatment. A group of 500 inpatient cases at a VA Medical Center was studied, and it was found that 95 percent of patients with an incorrect diagnosis, a failure to diagnose or no diagnosis at all received an improper antibiotic therapy. The patients who were correctly diagnosed were still given incorrect antibiotics 38 percent of the time.

Pneumonia and urinary tract infections are commonly misdiagnosed, as well as cystitis, kidney infections, and urosepsis. An accurate diagnosis the first time, and knowing when it is safe to withhold antibiotics, will help hospitals to better distribute them.

Patients whose conditions are improperly diagnosed can suffer severe harm if their conditions worsen, leading to additional medical expenses. Those in this position may wish to consult with an attorney to determine if a lawsuit based upon medical negligence is an appropriate remedy.

Source: U.S. News, Improper Antibiotic Use Often Due to Misdiagnosis: Study, Robert Preidt, May 20, 2015

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