According to a new study published by BMJ’s “Quality and Safety in Health Care”, the deadliest and most expensive type of medical error concerns diagnostic errors.
“Diagnostic error and its associated harm is a major public health problem,” they wrote. About 5% of autopsies in U.S. hospitals “reveal lethal diagnostic errors for which a correct diagnosis coupled with prompt and appropriate treatment could have averted death.” Diagnostic errors are medical mistakes that are “missed, wrong, or delayed” tests or findings. These errors result in payouts between 1986 and 2010, 54.2% stemmed from a missed diagnosis, 19.9% from a delayed diagnosis, and 9.9% from misdiagnosis, the authors wrote. Of the remaining 16%, some 10% went unclassified. The authors said the average time from alleged diagnosis error to claim filed was 4.7 years, slightly longer than that for all other categories that alleged error. About 93% of payments (93,035) were made on behalf of allopathic and osteopathic physicians, they said.
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