Understanding the errors people make is crucial to preventing others from making the same errors. There are few places where this is more important than medical diagnoses.
Doctors who make a mistake at the time of diagnosis may lose the only chance to save someone. Even if the situation is not irretrievable, any delay in making the correct diagnosis could lead to suffering and complications for the patient, which could have been prevented.
The top 3 misdiagnosed conditions are killers
Thinking someone has a common cold when they have the flu is not that big a deal. Yet the three most common diagnostic errors are a massive deal. According to a John Hopkins Medicine report, they account for 75% of the 100,000 people killed or left with severe disabilities due to doctors making the wrong diagnosis:
- Cancer: 38%
- Vascular events:23%
- Infections 14%
What can doctors do to reduce the number of errors they make?
Doctors can do simple things such as always asking the patient for their medical history. They can limit distractions such as phones to help ensure they give each patient their full attention. They can also make a conscious effort not to jump to conclusions too soon.
Yet the scale of the problem is such that hospitals and clinics also need to do more. They should provide technology to help doctors reach the correct conclusions and have systems to double-check crucial decisions, track doctors’ performance and provide more training where needed.
If a wrong diagnosis harms you, you may be able to claim compensation if you can show it was down to negligence by the doctor or their employer.