Diagnostic errors listed as top patient safety concern for 2018

A patient safety group has ranked diagnostic errors as the top patient-safety concern for 2018.

A recent report by the ECRI Institute, a patient safety not-for-profit group, says that diagnostic errors are the top patient-safety concern for 2018, according to Modern Healthcare. The ECRI Institute's annual Top 10 Patient Safety Concerns for Healthcare Organizations is based on more than 2 million patient safety events the group has collected in its database as well as on input from patient safety experts. The group points out that better awareness of diagnostic errors would go a long way towards dealing with the problem.

Top patient-safety concern of 2018

The ECRI Institute's Top 10 Patient Safety Concerns for Healthcare Organizations is a highly respected list that identifies the top patient safety challenges facing healthcare providers. This year, the organization identified diagnostic errors as their top concern. The group's number two concern was opioids, with the ECRI Institute noting that opioid-related hospitalizations having increased more than fourfold between 2000 and 2014.

The ECRI Institute says that more information about diagnostic errors would go a long way towards tackling the issue. The group says that healthcare organizations need to do a better job of maintaining data on diagnostic errors and sharing that data with doctors. Far too often, when a physician misdiagnoses a patient the misdiagnosis is not discovered until well afterwards, meaning that the original physician may never be informed that they made a diagnostic error in the first place.

Leading cause of malpractice lawsuits

Another study by medical malpractice insurer Coverys supports the notion that more needs to be done to combat misdiagnoses. That study, which used data from malpractice claims spanning 2013 to 2017, found that diagnostic errors were the leading cause of such claims. According to the study, about one third of all medical malpractice lawsuits involve allegations of diagnostic error. Surgical or procedural claims were second at 24 percent followed by management claims at 14 percent.

The study notes that while other causes of medical malpractice claims have decreased in recent years, diagnostic errors have not. More than half (52 percent) of diagnostic errors were the result of lab testing errors, such as a doctor ordering the wrong test or misinterpreting the results of a test. Another 33 percent of diagnostic errors were because the doctor did not properly evaluate the patient, such as not getting a complete picture of the patient's family history.

Medical malpractice claims

Patients who may have been harmed by a medical professional's alleged negligence should get in touch with a medical malpractice attorney as soon as possible. Pursuing a medical malpractice claim may not only provide victims with a sense of justice after their ordeal, but may also help prevent the same mistak es from occurring in the future.