Diagnostic errors are not a new problem, in 1991 the Harvard medical Practice Study, investigated Medical Malpractice in New York Hospitals and found out that diagnostic errors were accounting for 14% of physicians errors and that 75% of them were due to doctors negligence.
In 1999 a study from the Institute of Medicine “To Err is Human”, looks at diagnostic errors and classifies them in four different categories: error or delay in diagnosis, failure to employ indicated tests, use of outmoded tests or therapy and failure to act on results of monitoring or testing.
Despite these studies, diagnostic errors have been largely ignored until recent research calculated the impact of such errors. Results from a 2009 report funded by the federal Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality showed that 28% of diagnostic mistakes were life-threatening or had resulted in death or permanent disability.
Additionally, stories like the one of Rory Stauton who died at home after New York emergency room doctors failed to diagnose a systemic infection have horrified the nation and pushed medical leaders to elevate the long overlooked issue.