For a Correct Diagnosis, Teamwork can Make All the Difference

According to a story from Business Insider, a recent study has found that a team of doctors has a much better chance of making an accurate diagnosis than a single doctor does. A report originally released in JAMA Network Open found that cases that were physician crowdsourced online had a greater chance of being accurately identified. The process involved having multiple doctors work together to determine a diagnosis and come up with a ranked list of possibilities.

Improvements in Diagnosis Needed

Issues with diagnostic accuracy are a major problem for many rare diseases. It is common for a rare disease to be incorrectly diagnosed as a more common illness that may share similar symptoms. A general lack of rare disease awareness, even among physicians, contributes to the problem as well. It may take years for many rare disease patients to get an accurate diagnosis. These delays can have dire consequences; prompt treatment is often essential in order to achieve the best outcomes for patients. In progressive diseases that worsen over time, these delays often mean that a patient’s condition is allowed to get worse due to improper or otherwise insufficient treatment. Therefore, any research that indicates a possible method for increasing the accuracy of diagnosis is of immense relevance to the rare patient community.

Teamwork Makes the Dream Work

The researchers used sample cases in order to compare the effectiveness of a single physician versus a team. The team utilized a total of 1,572 cases and 2,069 doctors and doctors-in-training offered their own diagnostic predictions for them. The study found that the participants were only able to correctly diagnose on their own 62.5 percent of the time, or about a “D” letter grade. However, in teams this percentage went up into the B+ range and higher. Even a team of just two of three still had significantly better chances. 

While this information is definitely useful, it will be up to future researchers to help come up with a way that team-based diagnosis could become a part of every day medical practice.

Ultimately diagnostic accuracy is an issue that still holds back the medical field as a whole and rare disease patients are especially affected by it. Hopefully, future research will allow for improvements in this area soon.

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