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Measuring Diagnostic Errors in Primary Care Comment on “Types and Origins of Diagnostic Errors in Primary Care Settings”

“Malpractice claims may capture nonlethal errors; however, they are most often associated with permanent disability or death. Only about 1% of adverse events due to medical negligence result in a claim.” write David E. Newman-Toker, MD and Martin A. Makary, MD, MPH in this article commenting on Singh H, Giardina TD, Meyer AND, Forjuoh SN, Reis MD, Thomas EJ. Types and origins of diagnostic errors in primary care settings [published online February 25, 2013]. JAMA Intern Meddoi: .1001/jamainternmed.2013.2777.

The Newman-Toker article from JAMA Intern Med. 2013;():1-2. doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2013.225 was Published online February 25, 2013. The authors go on to state;

“Nevertheless, with more than half a billion primary care visits annually in the United States, if these data from Singh et al are generalizable, at least 50 000 missed diagnostic opportunities occur each year at US primary care visits, most resulting in considerable harm. Combining this figure with autopsy-based estimates of US hospital deaths from diagnostic errors (40 000/y to 80 000/y1) and unaccounted nonlethal morbidity from hospital misdiagnoses and acknowledging another half billion visits annually to non–primary care physicians, more than 150 000 patients per year in the United States might have undergone misdiagnosis-related harm.”

In conclusion they state, “Diagnostic errors are associated with substantial harm at individual patient and public health levels, and their burden may be much greater than previously appreciated.” To read the full article click here.