Diagnostic Errors Cause Harm to Patients

When health care providers fail to provide accurate and timely diagnoses, patients are placed at risk. Proper diagnosis is critical to medical care. In September, the Institute of Medicine (IOM) issued a report that found diagnostic errors are a persistent problem. The report found that annually, one in 20 adults receiving outpatient care experiences a diagnostic error.

The IOM found that diagnostic error usually involves one of three things: an inaccurate diagnosis, an untimely diagnosis, or a failure to communicate a diagnosis to a patient. The report went on to state that, “A conservative estimate found that 5 percent of U.S. adults who seek outpatient care each year experience a diagnostic error,” “[Autopsy] research spanning decades has shown that diagnostic errors contribute to approximately 10 percent of patient deaths,” and “Medical record reviews suggest that diagnostic errors account for 6 to 17 percent of hospital adverse events.”

Some of the effects of diagnostic errors include harm and even death by delaying appropriate medical treatment for serious diseases or by provision of unnecessary medical treatment. The IOM has offered a range of solutions, including facilitation and support of teamwork among all team members, better collaboration among health care providers and inclusion of family members in patients in the diagnostic process.

When someone is injured or dies due to a health care provider’s negligence, financial recovery may be available. Such recovery is particularly important when permanent, life changing injuries are incurred. It is important to contact someone who understands the intricacies of the party’s right to recover.

Medical malpractice is a difficult area of law as it requires an understanding of both the legal practice and the mechanics of medicine. Abraham Watkins offers a free consultation to anyone wishing to pursue such claims.