Report: Everyone Will Experience at Least One Diagnostic Error

Active Senior Living, Resources for Physicians
In addition to errors of medical treatment, more focus needs to be on diagnostic errors.

In addition to errors of medical treatment, more focus needs to be on diagnostic errors.

The Institute of Medicine published a new report in which it observes that nearly everyone will experience at least one diagnostic error in their lifetimes.

[Read Leslie Michelson’s Checklist for Avoiding Diagnostic Errors-The KHN Conversation.]

According to findings: 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. Improving Diagnosis in Health Care, a continuation of the landmark Institute of Medicine reports To Err is Human: Building a Safer Health System (2000) and Crossing the Quality Chasm: A New Health System for the 21st Century (2001) finds that diagnosis — and, in particular, the occurrence of diagnostic errors — has been largely unappreciated in efforts to improve the quality and safety of health care. The result of this inattention is significant: the committee concluded that most people will experience at least one diagnostic error in their lifetime, sometimes with devastating consequences.

Read Getting the Diagnosis Wrong by Danielle Ofri, published in The New York Times. In her column she reports that it is estimated doctors get the diagnosis wrong in one out of 10 to one out of 20 cases. She writes: “Up until now, the focus of the patient safety movement has been on errors of medical treatment — incorrect medications or dosages, postoperative complications, hospital-acquired infections. But diagnostic errors — incorrect or delayed diagnoses — may be more common and potentially more deadly. The Institute of Medicine has taken up the subject, and its new report offers the chilling observation that nearly everyone will experience at least one diagnostic error in their lifetimes.”

Read Leslie Michelson’s Checklist For Avoiding Diagnostic Errors-The KHN Conversation.