Medical Malpractice – Medical Misdiagnoses
July 12, 2011
Medical errors are far from rare, according to several comprehensive studies of the issue. But diagnostic errors – a subset of the overall problem – haven’t received nearly as much attention as other medical errors since the nationwide patient-safety movement began in 1999 with the publication of the landmark Institute of Medicine report, “To Err is Human.”
“Diagnostic error is barely on anybody’s radar screen,” said Dr. Mark Graber, 62, a nephrologist in Long Island, N.Y., and an expert on diagnostic errors. The “To Err” report estimated that at least 44,000 and as many as 98,000 Americans die each year from all types of medical errors. More recent studies indicate there has been little progress since 1999, with as many as one in three or one in four hospitalized patients being harmed in some way by medical errors.
The statistics indicate as many as 9 million patients nationwide and between 400,000 and 528,000 patients in Illinois are harmed each year. According to Graber and other researchers, deaths and serious harm associated with diagnostic errors are uncommon even though an estimated 5 percent to 15 percent of medical diagnoses are incorrect. But for those harmed, Graber said the impact can be devastating.