A new study from September has shown that errors in diagnostics are even more rampant than previously estimated. One in 20, or 5%, are effected annually, with 10% of patient deaths attributing to these types of errors. And while there are numerous recommendations by experts to improve this rate, the problem is that most recommendations would take years to put into place.
During the study the errors were placed into three categories: inaccurate diagnosis, untimely diagnosis, and failure to communicate a diagnosis to the patient. Inaccurate diagnosis is usually what people think of. An example would be someone being diagnosed with appendicitis when in fact they have kidney stones. An example of untimely diagnosis would be a delay in diagnosis, which is an error reportedly harder to catch as time is subjective based on what is being identified as a problem. Failure to communicate a diagnosis is self-explanatory; an ill-informed patient can hardly be expected to make the best decisions for himself/herself.
These errors are the lead type of paid medical malpractice claims and represent the highest amount of overall payments. This is a direct result of the claims being almost twice as likely to have resulted in the patient’s death compared to other claims, with the study suggesting that most people will deal with at least one misdiagnosis in their lifetime.