Thousands of patients suffer serious medical harm every year as a result of an error in their diagnosis, treatment, and care. However, a person who has been diagnosed with a psychiatric condition, may be at a much higher risk of suffering a medical error.
According to the results of a recent study conducted in Sweden, there are several factors that might increase a person’s risk of becoming a victim of a medical error. Being from another country seems to have a mild impact on a person’s risk. A low socioeconomic status is also linked to a slightly higher risk of suffering a medical error. Lower education and income status also had a discernible impact on the person’s risk factors. However, these factors pale in comparison to a person’s risk factor when he or she is suffering from a psychiatric condition.
According to the researchers, the kind of condition or the severity of the psychiatric condition does not have a tremendous impact on the person’s risk. If you are diagnosed with a psychiatric condition, you are more likely to suffer misdiagnosis, or any other kind of medical error.
The researchers believe that this exacerbated risk could possibly be a result of the doctor mis-attributing the person’s symptoms. These symptoms may not be taken as seriously, or may result in a misdiagnosis which is a very common medical error in such situations.
Earlier studies have found that persons with psychiatric conditions are almost twice as likely to die in the 2 weeks after they are released from a hospital emergency room, compared to persons who do not have any kind of mental illness. One study published in 2017 found that 0.15% of persons who suffered a psychiatric condition, died in the 2 weeks after the discharge. While some of the patients died due to causes that were directly related to their mental health, like suicide or substance abuse, more than 80% died as a result of physical causes, like heart attacks or respiratory conditions.
The role of family members and caregivers is very important in ensuring that psychiatric patients get access to the kind of medical treatment they require for their physical symptoms.