Almost every American will experience an error in diagnosis at some point in life. But the problem has taken a back seat to other patient safety concerns, an influential panel said in a report released Tuesday.
The report from a blue-ribbon panel of the Institute of Medicine called for widespread changes in health care to improve diagnoses.
Errors in diagnosis — defined as inaccuracies or delays — account for an estimated 10 percent of patient deaths, hundreds of thousands of adverse events in hospitals each year and are a leading cause of paid medical malpractice claims, the report said.
Such errors can occur with very rare conditions, such as the Liberian man with undetected Ebola who was sent home from a Dallas hospital last September. But there are more common problems, such as acid reflux being mistaken for a heart attack or a pathology report showing cancer that is never communicated to a patient.