According to the WSJ article, as many as 160,000 patients each year die or are severely injured because of misdiagnosis. Misdiagnosis is the leading cause of malpractice claims, accounting for 35% of medical malpractice claims in the US from 1986 to 2010.
What is misdiagnosis and how does it happen?
Misdiagnosis is basically missing it. Not considering a diagnosis or jumping straight to a diagnosis. Sometimes it happens because of a systems error – like not having a system in place so the physician who orders a test reviews the results, not having a system to follow up on tests, or on recommended treatments, appointments, etc.
Sometimes it’s a rush to judgment – the physician doesn’t consider all of the causes of the symptoms. Other times its because a doctor doesn’t consult a specialist and doesn’t get all of the information before making a critical health care decision.
These types of medical mistakes are preventable. Doctors are trained to keep an open mind and not only stick to one diagnosis and to consult with appropriate specialists. Hospitals are updating technology to improve data collection and organization. And in an effort to draw more awareness of misdiagnosis, the Institute of Medicine has agreed to undertake a $1 million study to analyze the impact of misdiagnosis on US health care.
If you want to learn more about how to improve patient safety for you and your family, order one of our free guides or call us today at (202) 393-3320.