Doctors' Diagnostic Errors Are Often Not Mentioned But Can Take A Serious Toll

Reporting for Kaiser Health News, in collaboration with The Washington Post, Sandra G. Boodman writes: "Recent studies underscore the extent and potential impact of such errors. A 2009 report funded by the federal Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality found that 28 percent of 583 diagnostic mistakes reported anonymously by doctors were life-threatening or had resulted in death or permanent disability. A meta-analysis published last year in the journal BMJ Quality & Safety found that fatal diagnostic errors in U.S. intensive care units appear to equal the 40,500 deaths that result each year from breast cancer. And a new study of 190 errors at a VA hospital system in Texas found that many errors involved common diseases such as pneumonia and urinary tract infections; 87 percent had the potential for 'considerable to severe harm' including 'inevitable death'" (Boodman, 5/7). Read the story.

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