Medical Misdiagnosis Problems and Diagnostic Failures Needs Further Research

Carl Saiontz

By Carl Saiontz
Posted November 20, 2015


Diagnostic errors and medical misdiagnosis can have a substantial impact on the overall health of patients, yet a new report highlights how there has been very little research into steps that can be taken to prevent such errors during medical treatment.

About 10% of patient deaths may be directly linked to a failure to properly diagnosis an illness or injury, according to a report released last month by a committee of health experts and researchers from Institute of Medicine (IOM) and the National Academies of Science.


The report calls for a dedicated focus on understanding and preventing medical misdiagnosis, warning that if the issues are not addressed, diagnostic failures are likely to worsen and increase in frequency as health care increases in complexity.

Medical misdiagnosis problems are a leading cause of malpractice lawsuits against doctors, involving twice the rate of patient deaths compared to other lawsuits, according to the report, and resulting in the highest proportion of total payments to plaintiffs.

The report, titled “Improving Diagnosis in Health Care”, notes:

“In reviewing the evidence, the committee concluded that most people will experience at least one diagnostic error in their lifetime, sometimes with devastating consequences. Despite the pervasiveness of diagnostic errors and the risk for serious patient harm, diagnostic errors have been largely unappreciated within the quality and patient safety movements in health care.”

The report also found that 6-17% of hospital adverse events are caused by misdiagnosis or a failure to diagnose, based on medical record reviews, and five percent of U.S. adults who seek outpatient care each year will face a diagnostic problem.

The committee issued recommendations calling for a focus on achieving eight goals to prevent misdiagnosis and reduce diagnostic errors. The eight goals are:

  • Facilitate more effective teamwork in the diagnostic process among health care professionals, patients, and their families
  • Enhance health care professional education and training in the diagnostic process
  • Ensure that health information technologies support patients and health care professionals in the diagnostic process
  • Develop and deploy approaches to identify, learn from, and reduce diagnostic errors and near misses in clinical practice
  • Establish a work system and culture that supports the diagnostic process and improvements in diagnostic performance
  • Develop a reporting environment and medical liability system that facilitates improved diagnosis through learning from diagnostic errors and near misses
  • Design a payment and care delivery environment that supports the diagnostic process
  • Provide dedicated funding for research on the diagnostic process and diagnostic errors.

Medical Misdiagnosis Lawyers

Misdiagnosis problems can take the form of missed diagnosis of serious ailments and diseases, which can mean delays in crucial treatment that could affect both quality of life and the chances of survival.

A diagnosis failure can also lead to patients being treated for the wrong problem, resulting in unnecessary exposure to drug side effects, radiation from various medical scans, and even unnecessary surgery that could miss the actual problem or exacerbate it.

The medical malpractice lawyers at Saiontz & Kirk, P.A. investigate potential claims for individuals throughout the United States, and can help find out if an injury suffered by you or a loved one may have been avoided. To review a potential claim, request a free consultation.

1 Comment • Add Your Comments

  • allen says:

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    Posted on December 8, 2015 at 9:22 am

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