A new study finds one-third (34%) of malpractice cases that result in death or permanent disability stem from an inaccurate or delayed diagnosis, making it the number one cause of serious harms among medical errors. The research, which will appear in the peer-reviewed journal Diagnosis, confirms that inaccurate or delayed diagnosis remains the most common, most catastrophic and most costly of medical errors. T
Researchers found that of the diagnostic errors causing the most harm, three quarters (74.1%) are attributable to just three categories of conditions: cancer (37.8%), vascular events (22.8%), and infection (13.5%).
Recommendations to improve diagnosis involve system-wide efforts, including the involvement of patients and their families, among others. The study also highlights quality improvement efforts that need to focus on interventions in the specific practice settings where the harm occurs such as “stroke in the emergency department, sepsis in the hospital, and lung cancer in primary care.”
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