‘A public health emergency’: 795,000 Americans die or are disable for life after being misdiagnosed

  jennifer caffelle   6089   19 Jul, 2023 

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Dr David Newman-Toker, the lead author of the study, said that the findings trigger a public health emergency. He said that medical practitioners often misdiagnose patients when their symptoms look somewhat similar to traits of other conditions Each year as many as 795,000 Americans die or are permanently disabled after they are misdiagnosed. According to a study conducted by Johns Hopkins Armstrong Institute Centre for Diagnosis Excellence, an estimated 371,000 patients die and 424,000 are left permanently disabled as health workers incorrectly diagnose them with wrong diseases. “The estimate matches data produced from multiple prior studies that focused on diagnostic errors in ambulatory clinics and emergency departments and during inpatient care,” the report said. Dr David Newman-Toker, the lead author of the study, said that the findings trigger a public health emergency. He said, “Diagnostic errors are, by a wide margin, the most under resourced public health crisis we face.” Interestingly, the US public did not have much knowledge about the scope of medical misdiagnosis in the country until the report was released. Newman-Toker told USA Today that medical practitioners often misdiagnose patients when their symptoms look somewhat similar to traits of other conditions. “We don’t miss strokes when somebody is paralyzed on one side and can’t talk,” he said. “We miss them when they look like something else that’s benign,” he added. How often are patients misdiagnosed? The report says that doctors diagnose a patient with the wrong disease at least 11 per cent of the time. While some diseases are missed at low rates, others are missed more than half the time. For example, heart attacks have a low chance of getting misdiagnosed as the US has made “sustained investment over decades” in better diagnostic resources, the lead author said. Meanwhile, diseases like spinal abscesses are commonly misdiagnosed owing to their rarity. What is the most misdiagnosed disease? Researchers say that strokes are the most commonly misdiagnosed diseases in the US. The condition was missed 17.5 per cent of the time, the study shows. Newman-Toker said that as some patients show dizziness and vertigo as a symptom of stroke, doctors often misdiagnose them as an inner ear disease.

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