Recommendations for reducing diagnostic errors

Diagnostic errors have a significant effect on patients in Texas and throughout the United States. About 5 percent of people in outpatient settings are affected annually by delayed, missed or wrong diagnoses. Diagnostic errors are contributing factors in about 10 percent of patient deaths and account for up to 17 percent of hospitals’ adverse events.

In 2015, the Institute of Medicine released a number of recommendations for reducing diagnostic errors. It has identified several reasons including a lack of communication among patients, families and medical professionals; a lack of encouragement in reporting errors; a lack of feedback for medical professionals and a system of health care that hinders the process of diagnosis.

Recommendations from the IOM include more training and education for professionals, establishing a culture and systems to support diagnoses, and creating a better sense of teamwork between medical staff, patients and families. The IOM also recommends technologies that support diagnoses and a system for reporting and learning from diagnostic errors.

It is estimated that diagnostic errors cost nearly $39 billion in malpractice payouts between 1986 and 2010. The largest amount of malpractice claims are due to diagnostic errors.

While such errors may be costly for the medical industry, they can be devastating for patients and families. Even if a diagnostic error is not fatal, it can seriously impact a patient’s recovery and can have a lasting effect on their overall health. Consequences may include delayed treatment for cancer or being prescribed the wrong medication. A patient who has been harmed by such medical negligence has occurred may want a consultation with an attorney to discuss the recourse that may be available.