In healthcare, diagnoses serve as the cornerstone of treatment and recovery. They guide medical interventions, shape patient journeys, and ultimately determine outcomes. Yet, what happens when these medical diagnoses miss the mark? Diagnostic errors are a silent yet profound threat to individuals and families. Diagnostic errors occur when a diagnosis is missed, wrong, or delayed, leading to severe patient consequences. Medical misdiagnosis and other diagnostic errors can stem from many factors, including misinterpretation of symptoms, flawed testing processes, communication breakdowns among healthcare providers, and even systemic issues within healthcare systems.

Research Concludes Burden of Serious Harm from Diagnostic Errors

An article first published on July 17, 2023, and updated on August 8, 2023, by BMJ Quality & Safety sheds light on the staggering burden of serious harms resulting from diagnostic errors. The study aimed to estimate the annual US burden of serious misdiagnosis-related harms. The findings by BMJ Quality, which were also reported in Johns Hopkins Medicine, are sobering, concluding that diagnostic errors contribute to a significant portion of adverse events in healthcare settings.

According to the original research of BMJ Quality, Burden of serious harms from diagnostic error in the USA, it was concluded that “an estimated 795,000 Americans die or are permanently disabled by diagnostic error each year, making it the single largest source of serious harms from medical mistakes.” The results suggest that diagnostic error is probably “the single largest source of death across all care settings linked to medical error.” These errors can occur in any healthcare setting, including emergency departments, primary care clinics, specialty care clinics, and inpatient settings.

According to the BMJ Quality research, Diagnostic error or medical misdiagnosis of just 15 diseases accounted for about half of all severe harm. The research found that diagnostic errors involving the ‘Big Three’ categories together – infection, vascular, and cancer – accounted for 50% of the serious harms. Among these, five conditions were linked to the largest number of serious harms. They included stroke misdiagnosis, sepsis, pneumonia, venous thromboembolism (blood clot in a vein), and lung cancer.

The Human Toll of Medical Misdiagnosis

Behind these study numbers lies a far more poignant narrative—the human toll of diagnostic errors. Beyond the statistics are individuals and families grappling with the aftermath of misdiagnoses. It’s a narrative of silent suffering, where patients endure unnecessary pain, complications, and even loss of life due to diagnostic errors. Often, a family is left grappling with unanswered questions and unspoken grief.

A medical misdiagnosis, a delayed diagnosis, or a healthcare professional’s failure to diagnose can result in severe consequences for a patient. This can include serious injury caused by a worsening condition or the tragic loss of life. Diagnostic errors can result in delayed treatment, incorrect treatment, incorrect medication, or missed preventative measures. This can all lead to a worsening of a patient’s condition. In the event of a severe illness, diagnostic errors can be life-threatening.

If you or a family member has suffered harm from medical misdiagnosis or another diagnostic error, consult with a skilled medical malpractice lawyer as soon as possible. An experienced attorney will closely examine the facts and evaluate your case. An experienced diagnostic error attorney can help you seek compensation for injury caused by medical misdiagnosis. This might include medical bills, long-term care expenses, rehab, loss of wages, and pain and suffering.

Schedule a Consultation Today

It’s time to move beyond the numbers and unveil the human toll of diagnostic errors. If you’ve suffered physical or emotional harm due to a diagnostic error, contact a medical misdiagnosis attorney at Distasio, Kowalski & Yelen, LLC today. Our experienced DKY medical malpractice attorneys will meet with you to discuss if negligence on the part of your healthcare provider caused harm. In the event of medical malpractice, there are steps we can help you take to get the justice you deserve. Tap to contact DKY for a no-obligation case evaluation.