What Are the “Big Three” of Misdiagnosis?

According to findings published in Medical News Today, diagnostic errors are the most common and most serious medical mistakes doctors make. Though the findings do not pinpoint the exact number of people misdiagnosis affects, researchers estimate that as many as 80,000 hospital deaths occur each year as the result of misdiagnosis. Researchers also suggest that misdiagnosis causes between 80,000 and 160,000 cases of “serious harm to people’s health” each year. As a New Mexico resident, you are entitled to quality medical care. You are also entitled to the facts. Know what medical conditions doctors most commonly misdiagnosis so you can take measures to protect yourself.

To assess where and why diagnostic errors continue to occur, Johns Hopkins Medicine analyzed over 11,000 medical malpractice claims. The institution laments that with over 10,000 diseases, many of which share symptoms, diagnostic problems are bound to arise. However, that does not mean researchers are content to let them continue to occur.

To determine where misdiagnosis most often occurs, researchers did something they had never done before — they grouped diagnostic codes to isolate the most common injuries from diagnostic blunders. This gave them side by side comparison of the occurrence rate of the different diseases causing harm. What they discovered, in doing so, was that doctors frequently misdiagnose remarkably few conditions, three of which they dubbed as the “Big Three.”

The researchers found that 75% of cases of severe injury related to misdiagnosis stem from just three conditions. Those conditions include cancers, infections and vascular events. Misdiagnosed cancers accounted for one-third of the mistakes that resulted in permanent disability or death. The figure was slightly lower for vascular events, at 22%, and for infections, 13.5%.

Upon further investigation, researchers found that they could further breakdown misdiagnoses within the “big three” to 15 conditions for which medical error resulted in the most serious harm. The top three were lung cancer, stroke and sepsis. The other 12 include clotting in the lungs and legs, heart attacks, pneumonia, meningitis, and breast, skin and prostate cancers.

Finally, the study found that the most common cause of misdiagnosis is also preventable: Clinical judgment failures.

We are working to help the medical industry pay attention.  If we can help you determine whether your loved one died from misdiagnosis, please contact out firm.