There is an alarming statistic out there that estimates some 80,000 deaths in hospitals across the country each year are attributed to delayed or inaccurate diagnoses. In response to this statistic, a coalition comprised of more than 40 patient advocacy and healthcare organizations was formed in an effort to improve how diagnoses are handled. The Society to Improve Diagnosis in Medicine (SIDM) created the initiative, which is known as ACT for Better Diagnosis. ACT includes three steps that the organization hopes will lead to better diagnoses and they are accurate, communicated, and timely.
The 80,000 deaths per year equates to roughly one death every nine minutes due to delayed or inaccurate diagnoses. To make matters worse, some 12 million adults experience diagnostic errors every year at outpatient facilities. This is the most common cause of medical errors that are reported by patients annually. The co-founder and chief executive officer of SIDM, Paul L. Epner, said the following in a press release:
“Providing an accurate medical diagnosis is complex and involves uncertainty, but it’s obviously essential to effective and timely treatment. Nearly everyone will receive an inaccurate diagnosis at some point in their life and for some, the consequences will be grave. Major improvement is needed to systematically identify how to improve diagnostic quality and reduce harm to patients.”
Obstacles to Accurate Diagnoses
In an effort to improve the accuracy of diagnostic tests and diagnosis, the Coalition to Improve Diagnosis identified a list of obstacles that get in the way of accuracy. The coalition was able to identify six obstacles, some of which include a limit on time, lack of funding, lack of feedback and more.
Lack of Feedback and Measures
There are no measures in place for hospitals or doctors when it comes to understanding how they perform during the diagnostic process. There are also no measures in place for these entities to follow when reporting diagnostic errors or to help guide efforts for improvement. Medical providers rarely, if ever, receive feedback when they have issued a diagnosis that has been changed or was incorrect.
It’s not out of the realm of possibility for important information to slip through the cracks when patients are transported between the hospital, rehab facilities, or between doctors.
There is limited time when it comes to appointments, which is a chief complaint of both patients and care providers.
Not Enough Funding
There is a lack of funding out there for researching what impact incorrect or delayed diagnoses have on the healthcare system.
Complicated Diagnostic Process
The diagnostic process is very complicated. There isn’t enough information out there for patients to know when changes to their symptoms should lead to making a call to the doctor.
Lack of Support for Clinical Reasoning
Clinical reasoning is the term used for sifting through research and other items to deal with symptoms of patients. There is a lack of support for this reasoning since doctors don’t have enough time to delve deep into problems.
If you or a loved one has been injured in what appears to be a misdiagnosis it is important to speak with an experienced medical malpractice attorney. Contact the office of Matzus Law today to schedule a consultation.
The articles on this blog are for informative purposes only and are no substitute for legal advice or an attorney-client relationship. If you are seeking legal advice, please contact our law firm directly.