An interesting article on misdiagnosis appeared in this Monday’s Washington Post. The article, entitled “Misdiagnosis Is More Common Than Drug Errors Or Wrong-Site Surgery,” reports that the correct diagnosis is missed, incorrect or delayed in as many as 10 to 20 percent of cases. In many cases, the correct diagnosis may be made in time to avoid any harm. However, when a missed diagnosis delays treatment and, as a result, the patient’s prognosis or outcome is worsened, a medical negligence claim may exist under Ohio law.
The Washington Post article reports on a Harvard study that “found that misdiagnosis accounted for 14 percent of adverse events and that 75 percent of these errors involved negligence, such as a failure by doctors to follow up on test results.” Together, the statistics paint a frightening picture: 7.5% to 15% of the time, patient’s are subject to a negligent misdiagnosis.
These statistics reflect a morally bankrupt safety culture in medicine. Physicians and hospitals are more concerned with avoiding liability for mistakes and upholding their image, than they are with patient safety. Rather than hiding mistakes behind the peer review privilege and other secretive practices, it is time for medical mistakes to be brought into the light for examination and repair. Hospitals are content to conduct business as usual as long as their big budget ad campaigns cover up the burning truth: medicine is more dangerous today than ever.
In Ohio, medical malpractice claims commonly arise out of missed diagnoses, surgical errors, inadequate monitoring and medication errors. With powerful hospital and physician lobbies making all the rules, this important social problem is not being addressed and will not go away any time soon.