According to research some 795,000 American patients die or become permanently disabled every year. The information was released in a report by the John Hopkins Armstrong Institute Center for Diagnostic Excellence.
The numbers show 371,000 patients die and 424,000 are permanently disabled every year. Dr David Newman-Toker who is the director of the John’s Hopkins diagnostic excellence centre said that diagnostic errors are, by a wide margin, the most under-resourced public health crisis we face.
In a USA Today report Newman-Toker said that the more subtle the symptom is, the more likely the patient is to be misdiagnosed.
Americans prone to stroke
“We don’t miss strokes when somebody is paralyzed on one side and can’t talk. We miss them when they look like something else that’s benign.
According to statistics however, only 1.5% of heart attacks are misdiagnosed where as 62% of spinal abscess is incorrectly diagnosed. The reason for this is that there are better diagnostic resources and regulations in place for heart problems.
Strokes are the most misdiagnosed among medical conditions. A stroke was missed more than 17.5% of the time. The main reason for this is because sometimes the only symptoms could be vertigo and dizziness which is often misdiagnosed as an inner ear problem. Someone who has just had a stroke could also only be having a headache.
Top 5 misses
The top 5 misdiagnosed diseases are stroke, sepsis, pneumonia, blood clots and lung cancer.
Newman-Toker said that having narrowed down the areas where the misdiagnoses of Americans take place it easier to focus on where to put their efforts on.
“It means we can make a lot of headway in a relatively shorter amount of time, without having to boil the ocean.”
The report states that cutting down on misdiagnosing diseases like strokes, sepsis, pneumonia and lung cancer by 50% could reduce permanent disabilities and deaths by 150,000 per year.
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