In 1999, the Institute of Medicine (IOM) reported that up to 98,000 people die each year due to hospital mistakes. A health advisory committee with IOM has built on this knowledge in a new, yet equally concerning, report released in September 2015.1
Most people will suffer from at least one wrong or delayed medical diagnosis during their lifetime, according to the latest data. Americans experience about 12 million diagnostic errors a year, the IOM report revealed.
Conservatively, the report found that 5 percent of US adults who seek outpatient care will experience a diagnostic error. Further, such errors are thought to contribute to 10 percent of patient deaths and 17 percent of adverse events in hospitals.
They’re also the leading type of paid medical malpractice claims and are nearly twice as likely to have resulted in the patient’s death compared to other claims.
Devastating Diagnostic Mistakes Are Claiming Patients’ Lives
“Getting the right diagnosis is a key aspect of health care: It provides an explanation of a patient’s health problem and informs subsequent health care decisions.
For decades, diagnostic errors — inaccurate or delayed diagnoses — have represented a blind spot in the delivery of quality health care. Diagnostic errors persist throughout all settings of care and continue to harm an unacceptable number of patients,” the IOM report stated.
Diagnostic errors are often incredibly harmful to patients as they may lead to delays in treatment, lack of treatment, inappropriate, or unnecessary treatment. This, in turn, can have physical, psychological, and financial consequences.
Causes are varied but include inadequate communication between physicians and patients, a health care system design that does not support the diagnostic process, limited feedback to clinicians about diagnostic performance, and a health care culture that discourages transparency, so diagnostic mistakes are typically not reported (and not learned from).
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