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Getting It Wrong

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By Robert Geimer

A stunning new report has concluded that every one of us will experience a wrong diagnosis at least once in our lifetime.  According to a report from the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine, each of us are likely to experience an inaccurate or delayed diagnosis in our lifetime, sometimes with devastating consequences. According to the report:

  • At least 5 percent of U.S. adults who seek outpatient care each year experience a diagnostic error
  • Autopsies suggest diagnostic errors contribute to 10 percent of patient deaths
  • Diagnostic errors account for 6 to 17 percent of adverse events in hospitals

The report calls for better teamwork and training of medical professionals, and more emphasis on identifying and learning from mistakes.  Clinicians are also urged to listen more carefully to patients and their families, who can provide useful information in arriving at accurate diagnoses.

The bottom line is that there are far too many diagnostic errors in the U.S. healthcare system, and too many patients are getting hurt or killed.  This report should serve as a wake-up call, and physician and hospital groups would be well-served to make changes necessary to avoid errors and improve outcomes.

Source:

http://www8.nationalacademies.org/onpinews/newsitem.aspx?RecordID=21794

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