A shocking article published in the Wall Street Journal revealed that thousands of people are seriously harmed or die as a result of preventable medical misdiagnosis. In fact, as many as 160,000 patients are permanently injured or die each and every year because of misdiagnosis, according to researchers at Johns Hopkins University. Not only are diagnostic problems more common than other medical mistakes, they are actually more likely to harm patients.
"Diagnostic error is probably the biggest patient-safety issue we face in health care, and it is finally getting on the radar of the patient quality and safety movement," said Mark Graber, a Veterans Administration physician and fellow at RTI International, according to the Wall Street Journal article.
So what can be done to address this issue? Well, one idea mentioned in the article is automation. This would entail using computers to analyze medical records for potential “bad calls”, or to alert doctors to follow up on the computer’s results.
Another idea is to have devices, tests, and other online services that help doctors identify diseases and conditions more accurately.
Along with these ideas, there is a movement to develop methods to identify and measure diagnostic errors so there is a way to reasonably track how often doctors make a misdiagnosis.