About 150,000 patients may be victims of diagnosis errors every year

Earlier this week JAMA Internal Medicine published yet another concerning study regarding medical errors.

The new study suggests that wrong diagnoses, missed diagnoses and delayed diagnoses occur all too often in primary care settings. These errors may lead to multiple trips to the doctor’s office or hospital, which can be costly for patients. These errors may also lead to fatal injuries when immediate medical treatment is needed but not received.

Researchers reviewed 190 diagnostic errors that had been tracked by electronic medical records. The errors were made by physicians from two different primary healthcare facilities. All of the errors required patients to visit their doctors again within two weeks or resulted in patients being hospitalized shortly after the wrong diagnoses were made. Many of the errors could have resulted in serious or fatal injuries, researchers noted. Nearly 30 patients could have died as a result of the mistakes.

Some conditions that were commonly misdiagnosed included the following: heart failure, cancer, kidney failure and pneumonia. Researchers pointed out that these conditions often cause patients to experience symptoms that may be associated with other ailments that are less serious and less harmful. This is why it is so important that patients thoroughly describe their symptoms to their doctors and that doctors carefully rule out or rule in what may be causing patients’ symptoms by properly reviewing their medical histories and ordering the right medical tests.

According to one doctor, this study indicates that as many as 150,000 patients may be victims of diagnostic errors every year in the U.S.

When Illinois doctors do not properly diagnose patients’ conditions due to failing to order the correct medical tests or failing to look at patients’ entire medical histories, doctors may be held accountable for their errors.

The failure to diagnose a serious or life-threatening medical condition will prevent a patient from being able to fully benefit from medical treatment. In some cases, patients may be lucky enough to survive their illnesses or medical conditions after a delayed diagnosis or misdiagnosis. But in other situations, patients may suffer a wrongful death.

Source: Reuters, “Missed diagnoses common in the doctor’s office,” Genevra Pittman, Feb. 26, 2013

  • Our firm provides counsel to patients and families who have been harmed by missed diagnoses and delayed diagnoses due to medical negligence and doctors’ errors. To learn more about our firm and practice, please visit our Joliet medical malpractice attorney page.

Failure to Diagnose


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