How accurate are medical exams?
An analysis of the medical examinations conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in 2014 found that just 26 percent of Americans correctly identified the condition as an acquired infection.
In contrast, more than half of people were able to identify the condition and a third were able, though only slightly, to identify which of the two conditions was the most serious.
Researchers at Columbia University and Johns Hopkins University analyzed the data collected from a survey of 4,000 adults who were asked about the condition they had been diagnosed with.
Overall, a higher proportion of Americans were able than others to correctly identify which condition was most serious, the study found.
While the findings are interesting, they do not mean that every medical exam is accurate, said James B. Lipscomb, a professor of public health at Columbia and a senior author on the study.
“We’re not saying that all medical exams are 100 percent accurate,” he said.
“But this study does suggest that they are, and there are ways to improve them.”
Lipscom said the study does not address the issue of accuracy of medical tests that require participants to undergo a test themselves or use a trained health care professional.
“You don’t have to use a nurse practitioner to provide accurate information about your health,” he added.
Lippscomb said it’s possible to determine if an exam is incorrect by examining the type of test being administered, how long it takes, and how much of a test is required.
For example, if a test asks for an exact count of the number of teeth in a person’s mouth, then a doctor might not be able to accurately tell whether the correct number of dental implants was counted.
“If you have to have a nurse or a physician provide that information to you, it’s not going to be accurate,” Lipsdon said.
For instance, an actual checkup may require multiple tests, and it could take more than a day for a doctor to perform a test that might not require more than one doctor to administer.
In addition, Lipsner said the tests that involve administering medications could also be inaccurate.
“Even a simple blood test, if you take it out of context, could lead to false positive results,” he explained.
The results of the study were published online Wednesday by the journal Health Affairs.
More news from New York City, including crime and safety news and weather, was contributed by Amy E. Lefkowitz of the Associated Press.
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