According to the Society to Improve Diagnosis in Medicine, anywhere between 40,000 and 80,000 people in New Mexico and the rest of the U.S. die each year from complications linked to medical diagnostic errors. Every year overall, some 12 million people are affected by these errors with about half of those errors potentially causing harm.
The SIDM petitioned the National Academy of Medicine to review the various factors in this alarming trend, and the result was a comprehensive report called Improving Diagnosis in Health Care. It lays out numerous goals that can help medical communities minimize the risk for diagnostic errors.
One crucial goal is the improvement of medical education. Current education does not give students the means to recognize the lesser-known symptoms of a given condition, and it also does nothing to address cognitive bias in a diagnosis. One way to improve it is through simulations that provide real-world data from patients in clinical trials.
Teamwork between clinicians is important as many doctors are inclined to play the hero and try to diagnose a condition alone. Errors can be reduced if patients have a way to report them; after all, most hospitals have an event-reporting structure in place for patient safety. There should be a more effective use of health information technology as well.
If these and other goals are not met, doctors are more likely to become negligent in their work and cause injury through misdiagnosis or delayed diagnoses. In such cases, victims may file a medical malpractice claim. Many claims in the field of malpractice end in million-dollar settlements, so there is no doubt that victims who intend to file such a claim will meet strong opposition from the defendants. They may want a lawyer to evaluate the case first and then assist with the filing.