Are diagnostic errors preventable?

On Behalf of | Jan 25, 2022 | Blog, Failure To Diagnose

Diagnostic errors occur often and can be hard to prevent. Johns Hopkins Medicine explains the funding and research in the area of diagnosis errors is not as robust as it needs to be.

However, there are still things that providers can do to help avoid errors and ensure patients receive a valid diagnosis.


Preventing diagnostic errors requires understanding more about why and how they occur. When experts can easily identify the cause, they can better develop processes and rules that will ensure they do not happen.


There are many challenges with stopping this kind of error. Besides the lack of research, there is also the general expense of diagnosis. Tests used to diagnose conditions are incredibly costly. This can make a doctor or a patient hesitant about using them.

On the flip side, some providers may overuse testing, which can lead to missing the important details that would point to the real condition at the heart of a patient’s problems. Misusing testing will not increase the ability to better diagnose. Doctors need to find a good balance and not rely on testing to discover everything they need to know.

There should be guidelines in place to help doctors know when to test and when not to. They should also follow general rules for assessing patients so they do not miss key symptoms or signs.

Like most medical malpractice issues, diagnosis errors often come back to human error. While it is not possible to remove humans from the equation, the industry can do better and work harder to ensure patients get the proper attention. A missed diagnosis can be fatal, so providers must make sure they consider all possibilities before making a final ruling.


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