Diagnostic errors are best described as either either inaccurate, delayed or missed diagnoses. They are estimated to account for between 40,000 and 80,000 patient deaths in the United States each year. Despite this relatively high fatality rate, patient safety organization, Society to Improve Diagnosis in Medicine, argues that very little research emphasis or investment is made on understanding more about this alarming trend.
According to a report titled, "Diagnostic Error in Health Care," published in September of 2015, more often than not, medical misdiagnoses are only discovered after a patient has died. It's then, when these individuals' bodies are having autopsies performed on them that medical examiners determine that the patient died because of complications associated with either a delayed or inaccurate diagnosis.
The authors of this study report that many would assume that diagnostic error was of limited importance given that less than 10 percent of all autopsies performed results in the discovery of a diagnostic error. They argue that number is deceiving, though, as they found that only 6 percent of all hospital deaths actually result in autopsies being performed in the first place.
Those who have long researched the impact of diagnostic errors advocate for increased autopsies to help better understand just how prevalent the issue is.
In an era in which doctors have tremendous pressure that rests upon their shoulders, advocacy groups argue that patients need to be even more proactive in managing their health care than before. They argue that patients should definitively follow up in getting second opinions as to their diagnosis. They maintain that doctors should be eager to encourage patients to do so as well.
Many patients have begun taking on a much more proactive stance in managing their health care in recent years. Now, more than ever, patients have become their own health advocates. They no longer merely rely on their doctor's opinion, but conduct their own independent research to ensure that they're informed and getting the best possible care. Despite this, errors do occur.
For those who have either seen their condition deteriorate from a misdiagnosis or have lost their life as a result of error, an experienced Tucson medical malpractice attorney may be able to advise you of your rights in your legal case.
Source: Arizona Daily Star, "Medical misdiagnoses put pressure on patients to stay engaged," Stephanie Innis, accessed June 08, 2017