A new study by the Centre for Research on Equity in Health (CRESS) and the Indian Medical Association (IMA) has found that Indian doctors are misdiagnosing almost a third of all patients, and that doctors are not following up the cases of patients with the appropriate diagnostic criteria.
The study was conducted by the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) in collaboration with the Indian Institute of Technology, Bangalore (IIB), as part of its Global Health Monitoring Programme.
It looked at data from more than 3,500 patients with Indian primary care physicians between 2009 and 2017, which included the diagnoses of heart disease, kidney failure, cancer, stroke and diabetes.
It was found that in some cases, patients were misdiagnoses as having other conditions, such as a heart defect or a kidney defect, which they did not have.
“The survey showed that in India, over 70 per cent of the cases in which patients were not correctly diagnosed by their primary care physician had underlying medical conditions, including cardiac disease, diabetes, kidney disease, stroke, and cancer,” said Prabhjot Bhattacharya, head of the CRESS Centre for Health and Equity at IMI, in a statement.
India is one of the most expensive countries in the world for healthcare.
In the year to September 2017, the country cost $9.3 billion, a 17 per cent increase from the previous year, according to the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
The WHO said in 2016 that India ranked 13th in terms of the number of cases per 100,000 people of circulatory diseases, and 23rd in terms, according the World Health Organization (WHO).
Dr Rajiv Suresh, a consultant in internal medicine at the Indian National Institutes of Health (NIH), told The Guardian that the study was not a surprise.
“I am not surprised by it, but I think the government should look at the problem,” he said.
Dr Sureshe said the problem of misdiagnosis in Indian healthcare had become a “serious concern” for the country.
“It’s a major concern.
It needs to be addressed, and there are ways of doing that,” he told the paper.
In the US, there are also many reports of mis-diagnosis.
The National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) reported in January that nearly 40 per cent, or more than 2.3 million, of US doctors misdiagnose patients, while nearly 40,000 patients had their diagnoses confirmed by a second source.
An article in The Lancet in June 2016 found that doctors in the US misdiagnised 4.6 million people, of which 2.6 per cent were incorrectly diagnosed.
Experts say that this problem needs to get better as there is a lack of knowledge and training among healthcare professionals in India.
“A lot of people in the country don’t know how to diagnose diseases or the correct diagnosis,” Dr Sureshes said.