Misdiagnosed conditions are common, and they can delay necessary treatment or even result in death.
The John Hopkins Medicine, Armstrong Institute for Patient Safety and Quality stated that most individuals will experience a minimum of one diagnostic error at some point. This can have devastating consequences. There are some strategies that doctors and other medical professionals can implement to reduce this issue.
The effect of misdiagnosis
Errors related to misdiagnosis and the failure to diagnose are the most common and costly out of all medical errors. Of the 12 million patients affected annually, around 33% of them experience harm of some sort. Annually, up to 80,000 deaths associated with diagnostic errors are preventable.
Common conditions misdiagnosed
Prevention reports that some of the conditions most commonly misdiagnosed include:
- Heart attacks
Strategies to prevent and reduce diagnostic errors
Communication issues are one of the main causes of diagnostic errors. These issues include doctors not taking the time to listen thoroughly to patients, doctors not sharing information with each other and doctors not sharing lab results with patients.
Another issue is technology. Although digital records may be beneficial, they also present potential problems. If there is an error in a patient’s record, this carries over to all files and can have long-term consequences.
Cognitive biases are another reason for diagnostic errors. Some doctors also show bias towards patients based on their appearance.
Some things that patients can do to reduce errors are to read and review all medical records, describe the issue in detail and succinctly, get a second opinion and not be afraid to question their doctors.
Medical professionals can help by taking the time to listen to patients and not dismiss their concerns, sharing information with patients and other doctors and reviewing digital records for accuracy.