An estimated 40,000 – 80,000 patient deaths occur each year across the United States because of a wrong, delayed, or missed medical diagnosis, according to numerous research studies backed by the National Academies of Sciences, the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), and the Society to Improve Diagnosis in Medicine (SIDM). These diagnostic errors occur as frequently in doctor’s offices and outpatient settings as they do in hospitals, with approximately 1 in 20 adults patients experiencing an outpatient diagnostic error each year.

While the research indicates a substantial reduction in the number of diagnostic errors over the past 15 years, this comes as little comfort to those patients whose lives have been greatly impacted by a diagnostic error. Such an event can have significant consequences on a patient’s overall health, spirit, and well-being, and expose them to unnecessary treatments, tests, and financial burdens.

Diagnostic errors may cause harm to patients by preventing or delaying appropriate treatment, providing unnecessary or harmful treatment, or result in psychological or financial repercussions.

– Institute of Medicine, Committee on Diagnostic Error in Health Care

So, what can you do to prevent a misdiagnosis? The Patient Toolkit for Diagnosis developed by the Society to Improve Diagnosis in Medicine (SIDM) Patient Resource Center is a clear, concise and informative tool that will help you steer the conversation during your next doctor’s appointment. The Checklist for Getting the Right Diagnosis from the National Patient Safety Foundation Institute for Healthcare Improvement is another great resource.

Both tools stress the importance of clear, accurate and complete medical information in getting a correct diagnosis, and encourage you to take charge of managing your health and healthcare needs.

However, for those patients with complex or long-standing medical concerns, consider hiring an experienced, professional Nurse Patient Advocate from Carolina Patient Advocates to help. Your Patient Advocate can help you prepare for your upcoming medical appointments, ensure that your medical information is accurate and up to date, and assist you and your providers in making health care decisions together.

Contact us today if you have any questions, or we can help in any way.

Let Us Help You Bridge the Gap to the Healthcare You Deserve.

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