October 21, 2015 – Diagnostic Errors


Anchor lead:  Chances are good you’ve been on the receiving end of a diagnostic medical error, Elizabeth Tracey reports

Have you ever had a physician make the wrong diagnosis for you or someone you know?  According to the Institute of Medicine, chances are you have, or you will.  David Newman-Toker, a diagnostic errors expert at Johns Hopkins, describes what’s known about this all too common problem.

Newman-Toker: We don’t know exactly how many diagnostic errors occur, but some estimates are suggesting it’s as many as 12 million Americans a year, and that one in three of those is associated with significant harms. The Institute of Medicine said that every American is likely to experience at least one diagnostic error in their lifetime, some of them serious and potentially devastating. Patients play an important role in the diagnostic process so I always recommend that patients do three things.  The first is to come prepared to the interview with the physician.   :30

Newman-Toker says patients must also ask questions and remain vigilant about their own care in order to minimize the chance of errors.  At Johns Hopkins, I’m Elizabeth Tracey.