Diagnostic Errors Leading Cause of Malpractice Claims

The NY Times published a blog post a few days ago noting that the most common cause of medical malpractice claims are diagnostic errors. We had blogged about this particular issue and raised this issue as a serious public health safety issue. In the Times’ post, author Nicholas Bakalar writes, “Using the National Practitioner Data Bank, which records actions taken by state licensing authorities against health care practitioners, researchers found that 28.6 percent of malpractice payments are for diagnostic mistakes. . .The senior author, Dr. David E. Newman-Toker, an associate professor of neurology at Johns Hopkins, said that “this is a major health problem,” and that physicians, hospitals and insurers all need to contribute to fixing it. “At the policy level,” he said, “there is no institute that views it as their problem. “There’s a lot of room for improvement,” he continued. “You can’t get the treatment right if you don’t get the diagnosis right.” He’s correct and it’s time the medical community begin to take this safety issue seriously.