The Scary Truth Behind Diagnostic Errors
Doctors rely on a wide array of tests, technologies and staff to help diagnose patients with medical conditions. However, sometimes these tests are inaccurate and patients can be misdiagnosed. In some cases, diagnostic errors can lead to delayed treatment, pain and death.
What can happen to patients unfortunate enough to experience diagnostic errors? A recent article in the Huffington Post can provide insight into how patients can experience an enormous amount of suffering.
In the article, the author describes the years of pain she experienced due to doctors being unable to diagnose her with IgG4, an autoimmune disease. Doctors misdiagnosed her with sickle cell anemia, high blood pressure, diabetes and other health conditions. As a result, she was told to take several medications and undergo treatments that caused organ damage, hair loss, strokes, joint damage and other painful health conditions.
Unfortunately, diagnostic errors are very commonplace in hospitals around the country. Kaiser Health News suggests 10 to 20 percent of cases are misdiagnosed. This would make diagnostic errors one of the most common medical mistakes. Some patients lose their lives from diagnostic errors. According to Johns Hopkins University, diagnostic errors cause 160,000 deaths or permanent injuries in the U.S. every year.
How Can Hospitals Prevent Diagnostic Errors?
There are several ways hospitals, doctors and patients can avoid the turmoil caused by diagnostic errors. The Institute of Medicine has suggested improving communication protocols among hospital staff, doctors, patients and families. Hospitals could also allow for greater transparency when errors are made so other health care professionals could avoid making the same mistakes.
Too many patients are losing their lives or suffering from diagnostic errors, and it is time hospitals made some positive changes.