The diagnoses patients receive have very big impacts on what treatment and care they get. Sadly, here in the U.S., it is not that uncommon for a diagnosis to be wrong.
The Society to Improve Diagnosis in Medicine estimates that, each year, 12 million outpatients are affected by diagnostic mistakes. According to the society, no cause is more common in patient-reported medical errors than delayed or wrong diagnoses.
Numbers from the society also underscore how big of impacts diagnostic errors can have for patient safety. The society estimates that, each year, around 80,000 deaths occur as a result of such mistakes here in the United States.
Many things can get in the way of a correct diagnosis. Examples include:
- Time constraints
- Communication problems
- The general complexity of the diagnostic process
- A lack of good measures for doctors on how well they are doing when it comes to diagnosing patients
Also, diagnoses are sometimes missed due to negligence on the part of doctors or hospitals. When people suffer harmful diagnostic mistakes due to such negligence, malpractice claims may be an available route for pursuing monetary relief. Skilled lawyers can advise victims of diagnosis errors on what options they may have regarding such claims.
A collection of over 40 patient advocacy and health care groups have joined together in an effort to help reduce diagnosis mistakes. It is known as ACT for Better Diagnosis. One wonders what impacts this endeavor will ultimately have within the medical field and whether it will lead to significant improvements in diagnosis quality.
What do you think would help most with preventing diagnosis mistakes?