At some time in their lives, Americans will experience a missed, delayed or wrong diagnosis from a health care provider. That’s according to the latest in a series of in-depth patient safety reports by the Institute of Medicine, which is part of the National Academy of Sciences.
The first of these studies, released in 1999, was the bombshell, “To Err is Human,” which revealed some 100,000 people die every year in the U.S. as a result of health care errors. The latest estimates indicate the actual figure is likely four times that high. But diagnostic errors are scarcely mentioned in this literature. Now, researchers contend this under-studied issue accounts for far more problems than other types of mistakes, such as surgical mishaps or medication errors.
Much of research in the past has spotlighted mistakes that occur in hospitals. This is, of course, important. After all, that’s where emergency services are rendered, many surgeries take place and patients receive longer-term, inpatient critical care. However, it’s not where the majority of diagnostic errors happen. They occur in surgical centers, outpatient facilities and doctors’ offices. Continue reading ›