Misdiagnosis Statistics: How Often Do Diagnostic Errors Occur? (Part 2)

March 12, 2014

Picking up from Misdiagnosis Statistics: How Often Do Diagnostic Errors Occur? (Part 1), here, we will continue presenting some eye-opening statistics regarding the prevalence of diagnostic errors in U.S. medical facilities. While these misdiagnosis statistics can shed some light on how often medical professionals make mistakes when it comes to diagnosing patients, they can also reveal how frequently these grave mistakes result in serious injuries.

According to misdiagnosis statistics (which have been compiled by various reputable agencies, as discussed in the first part of this blog):

  • According to statistics, diagnostic errors are most likely to happen in emergency rooms and ICUs where doctors have very little time to diagnose patients.

    According to statistics, diagnostic errors are most likely to happen in emergency rooms and ICUs where doctors have very little time to diagnose patients.

    In intensive care units alone, diagnostic errors reportedly result in about 40,500 deaths every year in the U.S. This is approximately the same number of people who reportedly die as a result of breast cancer each year.

  • Misdiagnosis rates tend to be the highest in intensive care units and emergency rooms (rather than in doctors’ offices) due to the fact that medical professionals in these settings typically have very little time to make a diagnosis and start administering treatments.
  • More than 90 percent of diagnostic errors are preventable, and about 9 in 10 doctors report that they come across a misdiagnosis (from another physician) at least one time each month.
  • Of the 500 million (or so) primary care doctors’ visits that take place each year in the U.S., about 500,000 instances of failure to diagnose a condition occur.
  • Over the last three decades, more than 1.3 million people have reportedly been erroneously diagnosed with cancer.
  • Some researchers have attributed the high incidence of diagnostic errors to the fact that making a proper diagnosis (especially of more complex or elusive conditions) is a complicated process. Others point out that, in many cases, medical professionals never become aware of their diagnostic errors because patients will just go to other doctors.
  • Diagnostic errors are the most common claim in malpractice lawsuits; despite this fact, however, researchers have suggested that the majority of people who are victims of diagnostic errors never seek legal recourse to hold negligent medical professionals responsible for their mistakes. One reason may be that, in some cases, it takes months or even years before patients are aware that they have been the victims of diagnostic errors.
  • When patients do file malpractice lawsuits based on claims of diagnostic errors, the five most common conditions associated with such cases include heart attack (myocardial infarction), breast cancer, appendicitis, lung cancer and colon cancer.

Our Portland Malpractice Lawyers Want to Discuss Your Rights

Helping you hold negligent medical professionals responsible for their diagnostic errors is one of our primary goals. At the Savage Law Firm, our Portland malpractice attorneys encourage you to learn more about your rights and case by setting up a free, no obligations initial consult. We represent clients in Oregon and Washington from our offices in Portland and Seattle.

To learn more about our legal services and what we can do for you, call us at 503-222-0200 (in Portland) or at 206-957-7272 (in Seattle). You can also email us using the form on this page.

Categories: Blog, Diagnostic Errors, Malpractice, Misdiagnosis Statistics