Diagnostic Errors Top Patient Concern in 2018

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Medical errors reportedly are the third largest cause of death in the United States.  According to a leading medical research organization, a diagnostic error is the one that should concern patients the most.

The ECRI Institute is a nonprofit organization focused on research to improve medical safety and patient care.  Each year it publishes a list of the nation’s Top 10 patient concerns.  It does this by collecting a myriad of data sources, including actual events in which a patient’s safety was endangered during treatment.

Sitting atop its list of Top 10 Patient Concerns for 2018 is diagnostic errors.

Misdiagnosis Accounts for Nearly 20 Percent of Preventable Medical Mistakes

Mistakes in diagnosis have been a chief concern for some time.  Last year the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality cited a Harvard study that showed diagnostic errors accounted for 17 percent of all preventable medical mistakes hospital patients suffer.

Misdiagnosis can take several forms.  A doctor’s failure to diagnosis a serious health issue can be fatal because the appropriate care is not given.

When a patient is misdiagnosed with the wrong ailment, he or she may receive medical care that may do more harm than good.

And a delay in providing the correct diagnosis can unnecessarily take a patient’s life as well.

ECRI states that diagnostic errors happen for three reasons:

·         Cognitive (the doctors’ skill to identify a patient’s condition)

·         Systemic (problems with communications between health providers)

·         A combination of Cognitive and Systemic factors

Hospital Errors That Seriously Threaten Patients

Number three on ECRI’s top patient worries relates somewhat to misdiagnosis.  The broad “Internal Care Coordination” covers a lot of ground and explains why a number of serious medical errors occur in hospitals.  This refers to miscommunication within a hospital setting.

The treatment of hospital patients suffering from catastrophic health issues must be well coordinated.  Clear communication anchors proper coordination.  If key details aren’t shared between doctors and nurses – especially during patient handoffs at shift changes – patients may be endangered through a misdiagnosis or other type of medical mistake.

Number four on the list is when medical staff ignores or change established in-house rules or procedures.

The failure to properly clean, disinfect and sterilize medical equipment comes in at number eight.  A poorly maintained hospital can be a petri dish for infections that are deadly to patients.

When medical treatment goes wrong and patients suffer, there can be numerous reasons why.  If you had family member die or you seriously harmed while receiving medical care, speak with a medical malpractice lawyer, who can investigate and identify all those responsible.

The choice of a lawyer is an important decision that should not be based solely on advertisements.

Authored by Gray, Ritter & Graham, P.C., posted in Blog March 22, 2018