Deep Bench: New study reveals critical patient harm due to misdiagnoses
A new study released on Thursday, July 11 finds one-third of malpractice cases that result in death or permanent disability stem from an inaccurate or delayed diagnosis.
The research, appearing in the peer-reviewed journal Diagnosis, shows that inaccurate or delayed diagnosis remains the most common, most catastrophic and most costly of serious medical errors.
The analysis provides additional context for a 2015 National Academy of Medicine report that highlighted that diagnostic errors result in up to 80,000 deaths annually in U.S. hospitals.
Of malpractice claims attributable to diagnostic error, researchers reviewed underlying disease states to identify patterns of misdiagnosis. They found that of the diagnostic errors causing the most harm, three quarters (74.1%) are attributable to just three categories of conditions: cancers (37.8%), vascular events (22.8%) and infections (13.5%).
While the researchers don’t direct blame or place responsibility to improve diagnosis solely on the shoulders of individual physicians, recommendations involve system-wide efforts, including the involvement of patients and their families, among others.
The study also highlights quality improvement efforts that need to focus on interventions in the specific practice settings where the harm occurs such as stroke in the emergency department, sepsis in the hospital, and lung cancer in primary care.
Researchers from Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine analyzed more than 55,000 malpractice claims from CRICO Strategies’ CBS database (Comparative Benchmarking System) to determine how many were attributable to diagnostic error.
On Thursday, in a Deep Bench satellite interview, Dr. David Newman-Toker, professor of neurology and director of Johns Hopkins Armstrong Institute Center for Diagnostic Excellence, broke down the study and shared how misdiagnoses impact patient health and the economy.