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Misdiagnosis errors are common and can lead to serious harm

On Behalf of | Mar 30, 2020 | Medical Malpractice

From various cancers, to infections, heart attacks and everything in between, diseases are never welcoming, but they become a daily reality for many Americans.

Dr. David Newman-Toker, ph.D., the Director at John Hopkins Armstrong Institute Center for Diagnostic Excellence, an institute dedicated to identifying and improving medical diagnostic errors, states that there are over 10,000 diseases and that “each one can manifest with a variety of symptoms.”

While the hospitals in the United States are among the best, if not the best in the world in their respected fields, misdiagnosis are common in America and abroad. Diagnostic errors lead to many medical malpractice lawsuits.

After analyzing 11,000 misdiagnosis cases that led to malpractice claims, researchers at Johns Hopkins Medicine concluded that 40,000 to 80,000 deaths and 80,000 to 160,000 cases of serious harm may occur because of misdiagnosed diseases and infections.

Which medical issues are most commonly misdiagnosed?

Surprisingly, a large number of the diagnostic errors that weer studied fell into three categories: various cancers, vascular issues (blood clots, stroke, heart disease, other cardiovascular diseases), and infections.

These three categories totaled nearly 75% of the studied malpractice claims. The three most specific conditions that resulted in serious harm were lung cancer, stroke and sepsis. The other most highlighted disease categories are as follows:

  • Heart attacks
  • Meningitis
  • Pneumonia
  • Blood clots in the legs and lungs
  • Skin cancer
  • Prostate cancer
  • Breast cancer

What leads to so many misdiagnosed conditions?

When the research was tallied, clinical judgement identified as the most the featured issue leading to misdiagnosis. This means that many doctors, due to a myriad of reasons, including: a lack of team-oriented education, a lack of or unused medical technology, or not providing patients access to specialized medical care sooner, relied on their professional judgement alone to diagnose patients.

Dr. Newman-Toker says funding must occur from the federal government if resources are to be allocated toward a fix of lowering the number of misdiagnosed patients.