12 Million Americans suffer a wrong or late diagnosis by our medical system each year. At this rate, most Americans will have at least one error in their lives, according to a new report by an institute of the National Academy of Sciences.
These health care errors are not limited to mistakes by hospitals. They take place in physician’s offices, ambulatory surgical centers and other outpatient treatment facilities around the country.
The report indicates it is far more common than prescription errors or mistaken surgeries on the wrong body part or patient. And the problem is expected to get worse as health care becomes more complex and more individuals and facilities become involved in the treatment of a particular patient. Health information technology may also be contributing to these errors.
As too many people know, the cost of a delayed diagnosis can be significant patient harm, especially when the misdiagnosis involves cancer or other serious illness. There remedy, to the extent they have one, lies with the system of medical malpractice. But many states are limiting that solution to compensate them for their loss. We hope this report leads to both improvements in the treatment of patients as well as better compensation for those who have suffered medical errors.