Most of the time, diagnosis errors–like a misdiagnosis or delayed diagnosis–refer to situations where a medical professional makes a mistake that causes a patient to delay receiving the treatment they need. This is especially common in cases like radiology errors, where doctors misread test slides, often giving a patient the impression that they are healthy when they are not. These mistakes can be the difference between life and death, and it is critical that hospitals and doctors be incentivized to do everything reasonable to avoid these mistakes.
However, misdiagnoses do not just affect seemingly-healthy patients. There are also many instances where a patient is obvious ill but doctors continue to attribute the problem to the wrong ailment. That issue was discussed recently in a General Surgery News story. The article examines the results of a new research project which looked at possible diagnosis mistakes affecting those who pass away while in the intensive care unit of the hospital. Essentially the research project should to get an idea of how many people in the ICU were misdiagnosed and how many, if any, of those diagnosis mistakes led to the patient’s death.
The results are shocking.