New Initiative to Prevent Medical Diagnostic Errors

Diagnostic errors are some of the deadliest medical errors causing often irreparable patient harm. A new initiative aims at recognizing hospitals for their efforts in preventing these errors.

The new initiative has been launched by The Leapfrog Group, which is a national organization of patient safety advocates. The initiative is called Recognizing Excellence in Diagnostics, and aims to publicly recognize and applaud hospitals that have done an exemplary job in reducing the risks of diagnostic errors.  The project is a collaboration with the Society to Improve Diagnosis in Medicine and has been funded by a grant by the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation.

According to Leapfrog, diagnostic errors are some of the deadliest medical errors. Across the country, misdiagnosis, delayed diagnosis and other types of diagnostic errors figure in the top 10 causes of death every year. Annually, between 40,000 and 80,000 patient deaths are linked directly to diagnostic errors. In fact, these errors are much more widespread than people believe. The Leapfrog report claims that diagnostic errors will affect as many as 12 million Americans annually and 250,000 persons will be harmed by these errors.

This ambitious new initiative by Leapfrog aims to recognize and publicly report hospitals for their efforts in minimizing the risk to patient safety as a result of diagnostic errors. The project is expected to be implemented over a period of 2 years.  During the first year, a panel consisting of experts will come up with the best practices for the reduction of diagnostic errors in facilities. This roadmap will outline clear guidelines for hospitals to achieve minimal diagnostic error rates, and will include not just educational materials, but also training support for the project.  During the second year, the proponents of the initiative plan to collect data from as many as 100 hospitals and health systems that have adopted these best practices, and rate them based on their successful adoption and implementation of these practices. Obviously, hospitals that report higher levels of compliance with these practices to reduce the risk of diagnostic errors in their facilities are much more likely to attract patients who are looking for safe facilities for their care, providing an incentive to hospitals to increase their compliance levels.

There are several types of diagnostic errors. Misdiagnosis refers to the wrong diagnosis of a condition, potentially leading to incorrect treatment and patient harm.  A delayed diagnosis is often related to misdiagnosis. In such cases, the patient’s condition may be diagnosed far too late for successful treatment to occur. A delayed diagnosis means that treatment begins late, possibly causing irreparable patient harm.  Whatever the type of diagnostic error, the risk to patient harm is extremely severe.

If you or a loved one has suffered an injury as a result of a diagnostic error, talk to an experienced Atlanta medical malpractice attorney and determine whether you qualify for a medical malpractice claim to recover compensation for your losses. You may qualify for compensation that includes medical expenses, lost income, diminished future earning capacity, pain and suffering and other types of damages. Georgia’s medical malpractice laws are notoriously complex. Talk to an attorney to determine whether you qualify for a claim.

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