How Common Are Diagnostic Errors?

We go to the doctor expecting that we can trust the care we are receiving. When a doctor gives us a diagnosis and prescribes treatment, we trust what he or she is saying. After all, the doctor is the medical professional, the one who went through years of medical school and specialized training to get to where they are. With their knowledge, we have to put our health in their hands.

Unfortunately, medical errors happen. And while these errors can happen for any number of reasons, diagnostic errors tend to top the list.

recent study came out, “Dose of Insight,” that looked at diagnostic inaccuracy across the country. The study looked at more than 10,000 now closed medical malpractice claims filed between claims 2013 and 2017.

Diagnostic error statistics point to a very real problem

The study found a number of alarming statistics, including the following:

  • More than half of the medical malpractice claims stemmed from a medical professional’s poor decision-making.
  • More than half of the claims also involved an aspect of testing, such as not ordering the right tests or misinterpreting the test results.
  • Diagnostic errors happen in all settings, including outpatient and emergency department locations, as well as doctors’ offices and clinics.
  • While anyone is at risk of a diagnostic error, the highest instances involved cancer. Also to make the list were infections, cardiac and vascular conditions, fractures and dislocations and heart attacks.

Diagnostic errors pose a real threat to the patient

What is truly upsetting about diagnostic errors — or misdiagnosis — is that the results can be life threatening to the patient. Many end up with serious injuries, while others actually pay the ultimate price: their life.

We believe that hospitals, doctors and other medical professionals should be held accountable when they cause real harm. This includes not only the responsibility of the medical costs stemming from errors, but also the pain and suffering, loss of enjoyment and future loss of earnings caused by these medical errors, and many times the value of the life taken because of medical errors.

We take action for the patient and their family, but also because justice brings about change. We do not want any other patient to suffer the same horrible outcome.

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