Most People will be misdiagnosed in their lifetime: Why aren’t doctors more concerned?

by John McKiggan

Proper medical treatment requires proper diagnosis

It goes without saying that getting the right diagnosis is the first step in receiving proper medical care. Obviously if a patient isn’t properly diagnosed then the treatment they receive isn’t likely to address their illness or condition (except perhaps by chance).

So medical misdiagnosis is a serious threat to patient safety. In fact medical misdiagnosis is the number one cause of medical malpractice lawsuits in Canada.

The Institute of Medicine has reported that diagnostic errors have become a serious problem. The report finds that most people will be misdiagnosed during their lifetime! One of the authors of the study, Dr. Victor Dzau of the National Academy of Science, Engineering and Medicine called the report a “serious wakeup call”.

How do doctors diagnose illness or injury?

Physicians are taught, very early in their medical training how to conduct a proper diagnosis. They have to use a process called the “differential diagnosis”.

The Canadian Medical Association Journal has found that preventable medical errors contribute to between 9000 to 24,000 deaths in Canada every year.

Considering how critical obtaining a proper diagnosis is to providing proper medical care and considering how serious the consequences can be, one would think that health care profession would want to know how often medical misdiagnosis happens so that they can improve patient safety.

No one is keeping track of errors

Astonishingly, no one in Canada is actually tracking the rate of medical misdiagnosis!

The Institute of Medicine report calls for improvement in communication and teamwork between health care providers. One of the recommendations of the report is something that I have been advocating for some time; that health care providers make patients and their family members an active part of the diagnosis process.

Simply put, the more information that patients and family members have the more willing and able they are to understand the diagnostic process and to be able to provide physicians with helpful information that could assist the health care professionals.

What happens next?

Now that the issue has been given more attention hopefully heath care professionals will take active steps to try to determine how often doctors are making diagnostic errors so that the mistakes can be corrected.

Knowledge is Power

Once you understand how often mistakes are being made it becomes easier to identify why the errors are happening so that they can be prevented.

Want More Information?

If you or a loved one have suffered injuries that you think may be due to medical malpractice you can buy a copy of my book: Health Scare – The Consumer’s Guide to Medical Malpractice Claims in Canada: Why 98% of Canadian Medical Malpractice Victims Never Receive a Penny in Compensation on

The revised edition of the book contains a new chapter on the link between medical malpractice and birth injuries, and cerebral palsy claims caused by hypoxia and ischemia.

All proceeds from book sales go to charity.

Free Copy to Blog Readers

But supporters who read this blog can contact me through this blog or call us toll free in Atlantic Canada 1-877-423-2050 and we will send you a copy at no charge.

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