A new study by a panel of independent medical experts offers troubling news about missed, delayed and wrong diagnoses in this country: Most Americans will get one at least one time in their lives. Sometimes, the outcome is devastating, resulting in the loss of precious time necessary to treat aggressive conditions.
Further, it turns this type of health care mistake is much more common than other types of medical errors, such as medication slip-ups or surgical blunders. Even so, this is an area of study that, until the Institute of Medicine’s most recent report, has been given far less attention than other issues of patient safety.
That’s largely because most research has focused on issues pertaining to health care that happens in hospitals. So things like hospital-acquired infections, mistakes during surgery or errors doling out medication have been high on the priority list of researchers. Diagnosis problems, meanwhile, often happen at outpatient centers, doctors’ offices and surgical centers. There are of course issues in hospital emergency rooms and in other hospital settings, but the new research indicates this is system-wide problem that is going to require a multi-pronged approach to address.