ER Study Shows 5 Symptoms Doctors Often Misdiagnose

An important ER study indicated that out of the 130 million annual visits people make to emergency departments in the U.S., approximately 7.4 million patients were misdiagnosed. This results in serious harm to around 370,000 people.

Roughly 5.7% of emergency department patients in the U.S. receive a misdiagnosis, with 2% of those cases resulting in harm and 0.3% leading to serious injury, including permanent disability or death.

Here are the five symptoms that doctors often misdiagnose when dealing with patients.

5 Symptoms Doctors Misdiagnose

The study shows that diagnosis happens in a majority of cases with symptoms that can apply to a variety of diseases, ailments, and sicknesses.

It found that 39% of serious harm caused by misdiagnoses is a result of five specific conditions. They include stroke, heart attack, aortic aneurysm or dissection, spinal cord injury or compression, and a blood clot in a vein (venous thromboembolism).

The study also reported that doctors misdiagnose strokes 17% of the time. Out of the top 15 misdiagnosed conditions, they make up 68% of cases of harm to patients.

A typical emergency department sees approximately 25,000 patients each year, and based on the results of the study, it is estimated that this would result in around 1,400 misdiagnoses, 500 adverse events related to diagnosis, and 75 severe consequences, including 50 deaths in one ER.

How Can We Solve Misdiagnosis?

Because of the wide variability of error rates, the study suggests that we can make improvements.

A majority of the cases of serious harm caused by misdiagnosis are linked to just 15 diseases and are the result of cognitive errors, especially in cases with atypical symptoms. As such, proper diagnosis of these diseases can be improved.

Certain changes in policies, such as standardizing measurement, creating a diagnostic performance dashboard, and funding solutions could also be possible solutions to misdiagnosis.

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