Wrong or Late Diagnosis in the American Healthcare System

October 5, 2017
Wrong or Late Diagnosis in the American Healthcare System The Institute of Medicine, which is a part of the National Academy of Sciences, has conducted a recent report that shows a critical health system problem that impacts at least 12 million adults each year. Continually, more information garnered by an outside independent panel has also revealed that most Americans will receive a wrong or late diagnosis at least once in their lives. Getting the right diagnosis is central to healthcare—it provides an explanation of a patient's health problem and informs all subsequent healthcare decisions. The diagnosis process is a complex, collaborative activity that involves clinical reasoning and information gathering to determine a patient's health [1]. Without a proper system in place to protect the patients, the number of patients who receive a late or missed diagnosis may increase.

Major Changes Are Needed

Major changes are needed to revise the healthcare system because often, these missed or late diagnosis can perpetuate life altering symptoms, make some conditions not treatable, or perhaps even lead to death. Improving diagnosis will require collaboration and a widespread commitment to change among healthcare professionals, healthcare organizations, patients and their families, researchers, and policy makers. The suggestions from Improving Diagnosis in Healthcare contribute to the growing need for change in this vital area of healthcare value and security. These suggestions include:
  • Facilitate more effective teamwork in the diagnosis procedure among healthcare personnel, patients and families.
  • Enhance healthcare professional education and schooling in the diagnostic process.
  • Ensure that health information technologies sustain patients and healthcare professionals in the diagnostic process.
  • Expand and deploy approaches to identify, learn from, and reduce diagnostic errors and near misses in clinical practice.
  • Create a work system and culture that supports the diagnostic process and improvements in diagnostic performance.
  • Develop a reporting environment and medical liability system that facilitates enhanced diagnosis by learning from diagnostic errors and near misses.
  • Design a payment and care delivery environment that supports the diagnostic process.*
  • Provide devoted funding for research on the diagnostic process and diagnostic errors [2].

Payment and Care that Support Diagnosis

The starred recommendation is one of the most crucial suggestions because it helps to create a culture where hospitals and doctors can feel free to admit their mistakes. Currently, doctors do not get reimbursed or paid for talking to each other. They aren't encouraged to bounce ideas off each other or to meet regularly to discuss their cases. The American healthcare system prevents doctors from communicating to each other without  incentives. This type of consultation should be paid for and given its own medical code for billing the insurance company. Also, electronic medical records that are easily shareable across systems will help, if and when they ever become widely used. But there's still not a system that ensures one hospital's system to talk to another's; and many doctors are reluctant to use even basic electronic record keeping tools.

Medical Malpractice from Late or Wrong Diagnosis

Dr. John Ball, the chairman of the Committee on Diagnostic Error in Medicine states, “The Affordable Care Act's provisions to encourage teams to get paid for caring for patients, instead of getting reimbursed piecemeal for each test, each visit and each diagnosis, should help” [3]. Unfortunately, medical mistakes are now estimated to kill up to 440,000 people in U.S. hospitals each year, making preventable errors the third leading cause of death in America behind heart disease and cancer. Wrong medicine doses, undetected tumors, objects left behind in patients' bodies, and missed or late diagnosis are just some of the errors that are an “everyday occurrence” in the medical community [4]. These issues that affect so many families and loved ones across America are not shy of Clearwater. In our community, you need an experience medical malpractice attorney to receive compensation for any mistakes made by medical personnel. Here at Dolman Law Group Accident Injury Lawyers, PA, we fight to bring these wrongdoers to justice. It's absolutely unacceptable for a patient to be victim of real, clear-cut medical malpractice, and if you believe you may have a case related to this, we can help. There may be a short time window of opportunity for you to share your case, so don't wait any longer. Our experienced medical malpractice attorneys will fight to get you the compensation you deserve. Dolman Law Group Accident Injury Lawyers, PA has had amazing success in the past with many cases related to medical malpractice and we only plan on adding to our list of impressive achievements. We're proud to represent anyone who is a victim of unfair treatment, ignorance, negligence, or simply doesn't know what steps to take to start their legal case. Call our office for a free consultation and evaluation at (727) 451-6900. Dolman Law Group Accident Injury Lawyers, PA 800 North Belcher Road Clearwater, Florida 33765 727-451-6900 References: [1] Improving Diagnosis in Health Care [3] https://www.nbcnews.com/health/health-news/getting-it-wrong-everyone-suffers-wrong-or-late-diagnosis-n431496 [4] https://www.nbcnews.com/health/health-news/when-docs-make-mistakes-should-colleagues-tell-yes-report-says-f8C11498661 National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2015. Improving Diagnosis in Health Care. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. https://doi.org/10.17226/21794.

Matthew Dolman

Clearwater Personal Injury and Insurance Attorney

This article was written and reviewed by Matthew Dolman. Matt has been a practicing civil trial, personal injury, products liability, and mass tort lawyer since 2004. He has represented over 11,000 injury victims and has served as lead counsel in over 1000 lawsuits. Matt is a lifetime member of the Million Dollar Advocates Forum and Multi-Million Dollar Advocates Forum for resolving individual cases in excess or $1 million and $2 million, respectively. He has also been selected by his colleagues as a Florida Superlawyer and as a member of Florida’s Legal Elite on multiple occasions. Further, Matt has been quoted in the media numerous times and is a sought-after speaker on a variety of legal issues and topics.

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