FROM CBSNEWS.COM (read the full article here)

Each year in the U.S., approximately 12 million adults who seek outpatient medical care are misdiagnosed, according to a new study published in the journal BMJ Quality & Safety. This figure amounts to 1 out of 20 adult patients, and researchers say in half of those cases, the misdiagnosis has the potential to result in severe harm.

Previous studies had been focused primarily on hospital patients but this study implicates outpatient clinics and doctors’ offices. Dr. Jon LaPook, the chief medical correspondent of CBS News is quoted in saying: “It’s very serious. When you have numbers like 12 million Americans, it sounds like a lot – and it is a lot. It represents about 5 percent of the outpatient encounters.”

The authors of the study admit that it is hard to speculate the damage done from this level of medical incompetence, but they go on to say that about one-half of the medical errors (meaning, in 6 million cases per year), have the potential to cause severe harm.