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letters | when the doctors have it wrong

Care providers, policy makers must work to fix system’s ills

Jim Lambert’s odyssey to overcome a misdiagnosis (“A diagnosis turned on its head,” g section, Aug. 12) is a painful reminder to us all that, despite our latest medical advances, misdiagnoses are still happening far too often. With studies showing that between 15 and 28 percent of all medical cases in the United States are misdiagnosed, resulting in needless suffering and billions of wasted health care dollars, we should be asking: What should we be doing to fix things?

The persistence of Lambert’s wife, Terrie, reminds us that patients need to ask more questions and should not hesitate to seek an expert second or third opinion. Policy makers must also take solid steps to encourage hospitals to collect and examine misdiagnosis data. To reduce misdiagnosis numbers to something closer to zero, patients, care providers, and policy makers alike must commit to making the life-saving adjustments the system sorely lacks. Until this happens, we can only expect to see more of the same.

David Seligman

Chairman and chief executive

Best Doctors Inc.

Boston

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